Load-sharing in the lumbosacral spine in neutral standing & flexed postures – A combined finite element and inverse static study

Tao Liu, Kinda Khalaf, Sadegh Naserkhaki, Marwan El-Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Understanding load-sharing in the spine during in-vivo conditions is critical for better spinal implant design and testing. Previous studies of load-sharing that considered actual spinal geometry applied compressive follower load, with or without moment, to simulate muscle forces. Other studies used musculoskeletal models, which include muscle forces, but model the discs by simple beams or spherical joints and ignore the articular facet joints. This study investigated load-sharing in neutral standing and flexed postures using a detailed Finite Element (FE) model of the ligamentous lumbosacral spine, where muscle forces, gravity loads and intra-abdominal pressure, as predicted by a musculoskeletal model of the upper body, are input into the FE model. Flexion was simulated by applying vertebral rotations following spine rhythm measured in a previous in-vivo study, to the musculoskeletal model. The FE model predicted intradiscal pressure (IDP), strains in the annular fibers, contact forces in the facet joints, and forces in the ligaments. The disc forces and moments were determined using equilibrium equations, which considered the applied loads, including muscle forces and IDP, as well as forces in the ligaments and facet joints predicted by the FE model. Load-sharing was calculated as the portion of the total spinal load carried along the spine by each individual spinal structure. The results revealed that spinal loads which increased substantially from the upright to the flexed posture were mainly supported by the discs in the upright posture, whereas the ligaments’ contribution in resisting shear, compression, and moment was more significant in the flexed posture.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - 21 Mar 2018


  • Finite element analysis
  • Forward flexion
  • In-vivo loading conditions
  • Inverse static analysis
  • Load-sharing
  • Musculoskeletal model
  • Neutral standing


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