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Comparison of three different surface plank exercises on core muscle activity

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Objective: This study compared the muscle activities of the erector spinae (ES), the external oblique (EO), and the rectus abdominis (RA) on three different surfaces. The purpose of this study was to determine which surface induces the highest muscle activity during the plank exercises. The information from this study can be used to recommend plank exercises to athletes and patients with weak core muscles. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: The subjects include 20 adult males attending S University in Seoul. Participants completed each plank exercise on three different surfaces. To measure muscle activities, researchers used the values from electromyography. The measurement excluded the initial two and final two seconds and collected information on the RA, EO, and ES in each posture of each subject. Results: The left external oblique showed significant differences between the plank position on stable ground (ST) and the plank position using a suspension device (SL) (p
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Received: 1 March, 2016 Revised: 14 March, 2016 Accepted: 14 March, 2016
Corresponding author: Byoung-Hee Lee
Department of Physical Therapy, College of Health and Welfare, Sahmyook University, 815 Hwarang-ro, Nowon-gu, Seoul 01795, Republic of Korea
Tel: 82-2-3399-1634 Fax: 82-2-3399-1639 E-mail: 3679@syu.ac.kr
This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licens
es/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Copyright © 2016 Korean Academy of Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science
http://dx.doi.org/10.14474/ptrs.2016.5.1.29
pISSN 2287-7576
eISSN 2287-7584
Phys Ther Rehabil Sci
2016, 5 (1), 29-33
www.jptrs.org
Comparison of three different surface plank exercises on core
muscle activity
Jin Lee
a
, Kwanghyun Jeong
b
, Hyuna Lee
b
, Jaeyeon Shin
b
, Jaelim Choi
b
, Seungbeom Kang
b
, Byoung-Hee Lee
b
a
Department of Physical Therapy, Hyun-Myoung Medical Center, Seoul, Republic of Korea
b
Department of Physical Therapy, College of Health and Welfare, Sahmyook University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Objective:
This study compared the muscle activities of the erector spinae (ES), the external oblique (EO), and the rectus abdom-
inis (RA) on three different surfaces. The purpose of this study was to determine which surface induces the highest muscle activity
during the plank exercises. The information from this study can be used to recommend plank exercises to athletes and patients with
weak core muscles.
Design:
Cross-sectional study.
Methods:
The subjects include 20 adult males attending S University in Seoul. Participants completed each plank exercise on
three different surfaces. To measure muscle activities, researchers used the values from electromyography. The measurement ex-
cluded the initial two and final two seconds and collected information on the RA, EO, and ES in each posture of each subject.
Results:
The left external oblique showed significant differences between the plank position on stable ground (ST) and the plank
position using a suspension device (SL) (p<0.05) and between the plank position on the unstable ground (US) and SL (p<0.05).
The right rectus abdominis and left rectus abdominis displayed statistically significant differences between the ST and the US
(p<0.05) and between the ST and the SL (p<0.05). The right erector spinae had a statistically significant difference between ST and
US (p<0.05).
Conclusions:
The plank exercise strengthens the core muscles effectively, and muscle activity is related to the posture of the ex-
ercise and the location of the muscle. These results suggest that plank exercises improve muscle activities. Additionally, plank ex-
ercises can be applied to general medical care.
Key Words:
Electromyography, Isometric exercise, Posture
Introduction
Core muscles are the deep and shallow muscles of the
trunk; they stabilize the spinal column, align the body, and
enhance performance when the extremities move [1]. Weak-
nesses in core muscles can cause changes in body config-
uration and compress the posterior joints of the lumbar
spine. Additionally, excessive anterior or posterior leaning
of the pelvis accompanied by the tension of the thor-
acolumbar fascia may result in increased shocks on the
flanks and lower extremities [2].
Core exercises can prevent injuries in sports and rehabili-
tation treatment by maximizing muscle power and endur-
ance [3]. Exercises to strengthen core muscles include the
crunch exercise, the bridge exercise, and the plank exercise
[4]. Among them, the plank exercise estimates and strength-
ens the stability of the core muscles. Core muscle stability is
crucial for preventing injuries to the knees, hip joints, and
the lumbar spine. Moreover, core muscle stability relieves
back pain by maintaining proper alignment for posture and
gait [5].
The plank exercise is a posture designed to use body
weight to resist gravity; it can be performed on various surfa-
ces, in variable positions, with devices, and impacts multiple
Original Article
30
Phys Ther Rehabil Sci 5(1)
Figure 1. The plank position on stable ground. Figure 3. The plank position using a suspension device.
Figure 2. The plank position on unstable ground.
joints. Plank exercises on the unstable surface using dynam-
ic cushions for the lower extremities can induce greater ac-
tivities than plank exercises of the upper extremities on the
unstable or on the stable surface [6]. Plank exercises using a
suspension device generates greater core muscle activities
compared to plank exercises performed on stable or unstable
surfaces [5].
Few studies have comprehensively examined core mus-
cle activity in the plank posture on stable and unstable surfa-
ces, or while using a suspension device. This study com-
pared the muscle activities of the erector spinae (ES), ex-
ternal oblique (EO), and rectus abdominis (RA) on three dif-
ferent surfaces while subjects performed plank exercises.
The purpose of this study is to determine which surface in-
duces the highest muscle activity during the plank exercises.
The information from this study can be used to recommend
plank exercises to athletes and patients with weak core
muscles.
Methods
Subjects
The subjects include 20 adult males attending Sahmyook
University in Seoul. The present study was approved by
Sahmyook University Institutional Review Board and each
subject was able to follow instructions and gave informed
consent by signing an approved consent form; thus, the
rights of human subjects were protected. The selection cri-
teria included individuals who: understood the study, a body
mass index between 18.5 and 25 kg/m
2
, volunteered to join,
and had exercised less than three times a week. The ex-
clusion criteria included individuals who had: exercise limi-
tations from a physician, used steroid or protein supple-
ments, drank more than two bottles of alcohol a week, or
could not maintain the plank posture.
Procedures
Twenty subjects practiced the plank position and warmed
up before the researchers measured core muscle activity.
After the warm-up, five subjects were withdrawn from the
study due to immature posturing. The order of the three ex-
ercises was randomly assigned to the fifteen subjects.
The plank position utilized had the same initial posture.
Both forearms maintained contact with the ground while the
hands made fists and the elbows maintained a distance of 30
cm apart. The researchers instructed the subjects to protract
the scapulas and maintain 90-degree angles at the ankles.
The abdomen was contracted using the abdominal draw-
ing-in maneuver method; the heights of the shoulders and
hips from the ground were keep at 25 cm. The plank exercise
on the stable ground required that the feet touch the ground
(Figure 1) [7]. The plank exercise on the unstable ground uti-
lized a dynamic cushion at the bottom of each foot; the air
pressure was the same in the two cushions. The subjects
were required to maintain the posture [8] for 15 seconds
(Figure 2). In the plank exercise using a suspension device,
each ankle was tied to the straps of the device. The heights of
the ankles from the ground were maintained at 40-50 cm.
Support was provided as needed so that the subject did not
excessively tilt towards the front or swing from side to side
(Figure 3) [5]. All subjects were advised to breathe regularly
Lee, et al: Comparisons of plank exercise on core muslce activity
31
Table 1. Comparison of muscle activities
b
etween groups (N=15)
Variable ST-plank US-plank SL-plank Fp
REO (%MVIC) 29.61 (16.19) 33.60 (23.07) 38.93 (28.86) 2.210 0.149
LEO (%MVIC) 33.58 (23.85) 36.32 (28.65) 41.03 (29.71) 3.627 0.040
RRA (%MVIC) 20.28 (10.83) 24.82 (13.26) 27.04 (16.78) 3.844 0.049
LRA (%MVIC) 19.34 (11.44) 23.72 (14.28) 24.60 (14.99) 5.488 0.019
RES (%MVIC) 5.15 (1.43) 5.88 (1.86) 6.91 (3.49) 8.424
*
0.005
LES (%MVIC) 5.34 (3.03) 6.08 (2.74) 5.83 (2.35) 3.783 0.051
Values are presented as n (%) or mean (SD).
ST-plank: the plank position on stable ground, US-plank: the plank position on unstable ground, SL-plank: the plank position using a sus-
pension device, REO: right external oblique muscle, LEO: left external oblique muscle, RRA: right rectus abdominal muscle, LRA: left rectus
abdominal muscle, RES: right erector spinal muscle, LES: left erector spinal muscle, MVIC: maximum voluntary isometric contraction.
while performing plank exercises.
Each experiment consisted of a three minute warm up and
three sets of a plank exercise maintained for fifteen seconds.
A break was given for 30 seconds between each set; a three-
minute break was given between performing each different
plank exercise. To measure muscle activities, researchers
used the values from electromyography (TELEMYO 2400T
G2
; NORAXON, Scottsdale, AZ, USA). The measure-
ment excluded the initial two and final two seconds and col-
lected information on the RA, EO, and ES in each posture of
each subject. The greatest value of electromyography when
each muscle was contracted to its maximum was regarded as
the maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC). The
MVIC was measured three times for five seconds each by
having the participant resist the researcher’s manual resis-
tance. To help assess manual resistance to the RA, the sub-
ject lifted their upper body while flexing the hip joints and
the knees; the evaluator applied resistance on both shoul-
ders. For the EO, the subject rotated the erected upper body
to the left and right; the evaluator applied resistance on both
shoulders. For the ES, the subject laid down on their abdo-
men, placed their hands with locked fingers on the back of
the head, and lifted the upper body up as much as possible
while an evaluator helped to fix the lower body and another
evaluator applied resistance on both shoulders [5].
The electromyography leads were placed on 2 cm lateral
points from the umbilicus with 3 cm longitudinal intervals
for the RA. For the EO, the leads were placed between the
12th rib and the iliac crest, along the fibers of the EO just
above the anterior superior iliac spine with 2 cm intervals.
For the ES, the leads were placed on 2 cm lateral points from
the spinous process of the level of the iliac crest with 2 cm
longitudinal intervals [9].
Analysis
The average and maximum values were calculated using
PASW ver. 18.0 (IBM Co., Armonk, NY, USA). Resear-
chers used Mauchly’s Test of Sphericityto determine if the
variances of the differences between all possible pairs of
groups were equal. Researchers analyzed the data using re-
peated measures analysis of variance to evaluate the differ-
ences between the groups. The threshold of the statistical
significance was 0.05.
Results
The general characteristics of the subjects revealed no
significant difference between the samples. The average
weight and height of the subjects were 67 kg and 174.5 cm,
respectively.
Performing a plank exercise on three different surfaces re-
vealed statistically significant differences in the muscle ac-
tivities of the left external oblique (LEO), right rectus ab-
dominis (RRA), left rectus abdominis (LRA), and right erec-
tor spinae (RES) (p<0.05); there were no significant muscle
activity differences in the right external oblique (REO) and
left erector spinae (LES) (Table 1, Figure 4). The LEO
showed significant differences between the plank position
on stable ground (ST) and the plank position using a suspen-
sion device (SL) (p=0.028) and between the plank position
on the unstable ground (US) and SL (p=0.047); however,
there were no significant differences between ST and US.
The RRA displayed statistically significant differences be-
tween the ST and the US (p=0.012) and between the ST and
the SL (p=0.034); however, there were no significant differ-
ences between the US and the SL. The LRA exhibited stat-
istically significant differences between ST and US
32
Phys Ther Rehabil Sci 5(1)
Figure 4. Comparison of muscle activities between groups.
ST-plank: the plank position on stable ground, US-plank: the
p
lan
k
position on unstable ground, SL-plank: the plank position using
a
suspension device, REO: right external oblique muscle, LEO: left
external oblique muscle, RRA: right rectus abdominal muscle,
LRA: left rectus abdominal muscle, RES: right erector spinal mus
-
cle, LES: left erector spinal muscle, MVIC: maximum voluntary iso-
metric contraction (
*
p<0.05).
(p=0.004) and between ST and SL (p=0.028); however,
there were no significant differences between US and SL.
The RES had a statistically significant difference between ST
and US (p=0.005).
Discussion
The purpose of this study was to compare core muscle ac-
tivities in plank exercises performed on three different surfa-
ces among adult men. Exercises on an unstable surface in-
tensify the activities of the muscles and the cooperation pat-
tern among the stabilizing muscles [10]. Additionally, the
exercises provide changed sensory inputs to the muscles and
activate the proprioceptors and neuroadaptive mechanisms.
In this study, US and SL showed significant muscle activ-
ities in the RA, EO, and ES compared to the ST (p<0.05).
Tong et al. [7] measured muscle activities of the RA, EO,
and ES in 36 healthy adults with a program consisting of the
primary plank position (60 seconds), plank position with
one upper extremity lifted (15 seconds each side), plank po-
sition with one lower extremity lifted (15 seconds each side),
plank position with contralateral extremities lifted together
(15 seconds each side), and back to the primary plank posi-
tion (30 seconds) without rest between cycles. Tong et al. [7]
reported significant differences between the plank exercise
requiring one upper extremity lifted and the basic plank po-
sition (p<0.05), between the plank exercise with one lower
extremity lifted and the plank exercise with one upper ex-
tremity lifted (p<0.05), and between the plank exercise with
contralateral extremities lifted together and the plank ex-
ercise with one lower extremity lifted (p<0.05). Czaprowski et
al. [11] measured muscle activities in the right RA, EO, and
internal oblique (IO) of 33 healthy adults in plank exercises
supporting the forearms on the stable ground, using a BOSU
ball, and gym balls. The order of the exercises was des-
ignated by a random ballot; a one minute break was given
between each exercise. As a result, among all of the muscles
measured (RA, EO, and IO), significant changes were ob-
served between the plank exercise on the BOSU ball and the
plank exercise on stable ground, between the plank exercise
on the gym ball and the plank exercise on stable ground, and
between the plank exercise on the gym ball and the plank ex-
ercise on the BOSU ball (p<0.05). The current study demon-
strates a consistent result with Tong et al. [7] and Czaprowski et
al. [11] The consistency between all three studies may be be-
cause the plank exercise on the unstable surface requires
more muscle demands to maintain the elevated position
compared to stable surface [5].
In this study, LES showed no significant differences in
muscle activity while RES showed significant differences in
muscle activity between ST and US and between ST and SL.
Tong et al. [7] reported significant differences in the RA and
the EO among plank positions with different bases of
support. However, the muscle activity of the ES was weak
and not included in the timeline measuring the values (10
seconds). Even though the ES is used before and after the
plank exercises, it demonstrates very low muscle activity
during the plank exercise. The role of the ES in the plank ex-
ercise is limited as the plank exercise resists body weight and
gravity with the anterior surface of the trunk. Despite the
weak muscle activity of the ES, the plank exercise can be
used to evaluate and strengthen the core muscles, mainly fo-
cusing on the transversus abdominis (TrA). Mok et al. [5]
measured and compared the muscle activities of the RA, EO,
IO, TrA, and lumbar multifidus (LMF) in 18 healthy adults
in the hip addition plank (HAP) using a suspension device,
chest press (CP), 45
o
row (ROW), and hamstring curl (HC).
The EO, IO, and TrA showed the most significant muscle ac-
tivity in the HAP compared to the CP, ROW, or HC
(p<0.05); interestingly, the HC induced the greatest muscle
activity of the LMF than any other exercise (p<0.05).
Czapowski et al. [11] measured and compared the muscle
activities of the RA, EO, IO, and TrA in the supine bridge,
side bridge, and plank exercise on different surfaces. The
greatest muscle activity occurred in the plank exercise
Lee, et al: Comparisons of plank exercise on core muslce activity
33
(p<0.05). Based on the previous studies, the plank exercise
strengthens the core muscles effectively, and muscle activity
is related to the posture of the exercise and the location of the
muscle.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest
with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this
article.
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... A recent systematic review has found that previous studies of suspension training exercises primarily focus on dynamic exercises (such as push-ups, inverted row, and hamstring curl) and static exercises (such as prone bridge) [21]. Most of the studies only focus on the core muscle activities during supine bridge exercises [22] or prone bridge-related exercises [2,11,15,23,24], but a direct comparison between supine and prone bridges with and without the use of a suspension system is still lacking. In addition, literature comparing the muscle activities between prone and supine bridges performed using a suspension system on arms versus floor exercises [20] or using a swiss ball as an unstable surface [25] is limited. ...
... The effect of suspension training on RA activation in our study was consistent with that of the previous similar studies. Previous studies indicated a 33% increase in RA muscle activation with Prone-Feet suspension [23]. The RA activation level is significantly very high (91%) in Prone-Arm suspension , high (55%) in Prone-Feet suspension , and moderate (36%) in Prone con [2]. ...
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This study aimed to compare the neuromuscular activation of selected core musculature in supine and prone bridge exercises under stable versus suspended conditions. Forty-three healthy male participants were recruited to measure the electromyographic activities of the rectus abdominis (RA), lumbar multifidus (LM), thoracic erector spinae (TES), rectus femoris (RF), gluteus maximus (GM), and biceps femoris (BF) during supine and prone bridge exercises under six conditions: control, both arms and feet on the floor (Pronecon and Supinecon); arms on the floor and feet on the suspension system (Prone-Feetsuspension and Supine-Feetsuspension); and arms on the suspension system and feet on the floor (Prone-Armsuspension and Supine-Armsuspension). Prone-Armsuspension yielded significantly higher activities in the RA, RF, TES, and LM than Prone-Feetsuspension (p < 0.01) and Pronecon (p < 0.001). Moreover, Supine-Feetsuspension elicited significantly higher activities in the RA, RF, TES, LM, and BF than Supine-Armsuspension (p < 0.01) and Supinecon (p < 0.001). Furthermore, Supine-Feetsuspension elicited significantly higher activities in the RF, TES, and BF than Supinecon (p < 0.01). Therefore, if the RA and/or RF were the target training muscles, then Prone-Armsuspension was recommended. However, if the TES, LM, and/or BF were the target training muscles, then Supine-Feetsuspension was recommended.
... A limited past research studies consisted the term "human flag", hence articles that included terminologies such as trunk stability, side plank, or Pallof press were considered for this paper as the "human flag" movement encompasses the movement of hands, shoulders, torso, hips, knees, and ankles aligned to the pole or bar, which are also common in the trunk stability or side plank exercises 3 . The "human flag" movement involves core muscles of the trunk that stabilises the spinal column aligned to the body during the human flag movement and any weaknesses or excessive anterior or posterior leaning of the pelvis can result into the risk of injury or can compress the posterior joints of the lumbar spine 7 . The trunk stability describes the capacity of the body to maintain or resume a relatively static position or dynamic trajectory of the trunk following the perturbation 2,4 . ...
... The plank exercises performed using a suspension device produce greater core muscle activation than the plank exercises done on stable or unstable surfaces 6,7 . Likewise, elbow-toe exercise performed on an unstable surface has greater performance than a stable surface for the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and lumbar multifidus (MF) 10 . ...
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... Plank and bridge exercises are some of the most commonly used calisthenic exercises in terms of both the development of the strength and their therapeutic benefits. Plank and bridge exercises are posture exercises designed to use bodyweight to resist gravity (6). They are known to be beneficial in improving muscular endurance and gaining essential strength (7). ...
... However, in cases where exercise planning to improve the overall strength and muscular endurance, the activation level of the muscles with the primary lifting role in performed exercises could determine the exercise preference. Plank and bridge exercises increase the overall body strength, and could also be used for therapeutic purposes (6,10). In addition, these exercises are frequently preferred in clinical applications because they contain isometric contractions that are suitable for problems such as painful range of motion or muscle weakness (28). ...
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... 2 These exercises have demonstrated increased activation of the rectus abdominis, external oblique, and internal oblique, providing practitioners evidence for their exercise selection. 1,13,14 While these LPHC exercises are common in both the literature and clinical practice, there are limitations to each of these LPHC exercises. The TESS may result in pain of the involved elbow, superior and inferior deviation of the hips, as well as thoracic rotation. ...
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Context: Lumbopelvic-hip complex (LPHC) exercises are used to increase stabilization within the human body. Torso-elevated side support (TESS), foot-elevated side support (FESS), prone bridge plank (PBP), and V-sit are common LPHC exercises. Objective: To evaluate muscle activation in the shoulder girdle and LPHC during 4 LPHC exercises and evaluate the reasoning for termination. Study design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Laboratory. Patients or other participants: Seventeen healthy participants (12 males and 5 females; age: 21.47 [3.16] y, height: 179.73 [8.92] cm, mass: 76.89 [11.17] kg). Main outcome measures: Participants completed 2 repetitions of the TESS, FESS, PBP, and V-sit until failure. Surface electromyography of the middle deltoid, latissimus dorsi, middle trapezius, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, external oblique, and gluteus medius were recorded and normalized to maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC). The duration of exercise and subjective reasoning for termination of exercise was completed following the 4 tasks. Results: The TESS and PBP had significantly greater middle deltoid muscle activation (TESS: 55.66% [24.45%] MVIC and PBP: 42.63% [18.25%] MVIC) compared with the FESS (10.10% [10.04%] MVIC) and V-sit (2.21% [1.94%] MVIC), P < .05. The TESS produced significantly greater external oblique activity (78.13% [32.32%] MVIC) than the PBP (54.99% [19.54%] MVIC), P < .05. Due to shoulder fatigue and pain, 41.1% and 17.0% of participants terminated the TESS, respectively. The PBP was terminated due to abdominal fatigue (41.1%) and upper-extremity fatigue (47.0%). Conclusions: The V-sit resulted in isolated activity of the abdominal portion of the LPHC. The FESS had increased global co-contraction of the LPHC compared with the TESS. The PBP and TESS had significant muscle activation in the upper-extremity.
... Caregivers who have to wear a baby carrier for a long period of time during their daily lives must properly exercise in order to prevent muscle atrophy of the lumbar ES muscles and stabilize the lower back and pelvis to prevent back pain. It is necessary to avoid continuously wearing the baby carrier in one fixed posture and choose an efficient wearing method for daily life function and to prevent discomfort in the lower back [28][29][30]. ...
... When testing the ventral chain, the lower back was mentioned as a possible limiting factor. The authors see here a radiating symptomatology by the overload of M. ilipsoas [14], because the activity of ESL or EST is clearly lower than that of EOA and RAB [32]. In our sample it could also be observed that M. quadriceps femoris could be perceived as a limiting factor. ...
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"Core stability training" is popular in both the therapeutic and fitness industries but what is actually meant and understood by this concept? And does everyone need the same training approach? This paper examines the landscape of 'the core' and its control from both a clinical and research perspective. It attempts a comprehensive review of its healthy functional role and how this is commonly changed in people with spinal and pelvic girdle pain syndromes. The common clinically observable and palpable patterns of functional and structural change associated with 'problems with the core' have been relatively little described. This paper endeavors to do so, introducing a variant paradigm aimed at promoting the understanding and management of these altered patterns of 'core control'. Clinically, two basic subgroups emerge. In light of these, the predictable difficulties that each group finds in establishing the important fundamental elements of spino-pelvic 'core control' and how to best retrain these, are highlighted. The integrated model presented is applicable for practitioners re-educating movement in physiotherapy, rehabilitation, Pilates, Yoga or injury prevention within the fitness industry in general.
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To examine the validity and reliability of a sports-specific endurance plank test for the evaluation of global core muscle function. Repeated-measures study. Laboratory environment. Twenty-eight male and eight female young athletes. Surface electromyography (sEMG) of selected trunk flexors and extensors, and an intervention of pre-fatigue core workout were applied for test validation. Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), coefficient of variation (CV), and the measurement bias ratio */÷ ratio limits of agreement (LOA) were calculated to assess reliability and measurement error. Test validity was shown by the sEMG of selected core muscles, which indicated >50% increase in muscle activation during the test; and the definite discrimination of the ∼30% reduction in global core muscle endurance subsequent to a pre-fatigue core workout. For test-retest reliability, when the first attempt of three repeated trials was considered as familiarisation, the ICC was 0.99 (95% CI: 0.98-0.99), CV was 2.0 ± 1.56% and the measurement bias ratio */÷ ratio LOA was 0.99 */÷ 1.07. The findings suggest that the sport-specific endurance plank test is a valid, reliable and practical method for assessing global core muscle endurance in athletes given that at least one familiarisation trial takes place prior to measurement.
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Estimates of low back pain prevalence in USA ballet dancers range from 8% to 23%. Lumbar stabilization and extensor muscle training has been shown to act as a hypoalgesic for low back pain. Timing and coordination of multifidi and transverse abdominis muscles are recognized as important factors for spinal stabilization. The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of training methods using home exercises and a dynamic sling system on core strength, disability, and low back pain in pre-professional ballet dancers. Five participants were randomly assigned to start a traditional unsupervised lumbar stabilization home exercise program (HEP) or supervised dynamic sling training to strengthen the core and lower extremities. Measurements were taken at baseline and at weeks 3 and 6 for disability using the Patient Specific Functional Scale (PSFS), pain using the Numerical Pain Rating System (NPRS), core strength and endurance using timed plank, side-plank, and bridge positions, and sciatic nerve irritability using the straight leg raise (SLR). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. From initial to final measurements, all participants demonstrated an improvement in strength and SLR range, and those with initial pain and disability reported relief of symptoms. These results suggest that dynamic sling training and a HEP may help to increase strength, decrease pain, and improve function in dancers without aggravating sciatic nerve irritation.
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With the current interest in stability training for the injured low back, the use of labile (movable) surfaces, underneath the subject, to challenge the motor control system is becoming more popular. Little is known about the modulating effects of these surfaces on muscle activity. The purpose of this study was to establish the degree of modulating influence of the type of surface (whether stable or labile) on the mechanics of the abdominal wall. In this study, the amplitude of muscle activity together with the way that the muscles coactivated due to the type of surface under the subject were of interest. Eight men (mean age=23.3 years [SD=4.3], mean height=177.6 cm [SD=3.4], mean weight=72.6 kg [SD=8.7]) volunteered to participate in the study. All subjects were in good health and reported no incidence of acute or chronic low back injury or prolonged back pain prior to this experiment. All subjects were requested to perform 4 different curl-up exercises-1 on a stable surface and the other 3 on varying labile surfaces. Electromyographic signals were recorded from 4 different abdominal sites on the right and left sides of the body and normalized to maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) amplitudes. Performing curl-up exercises on labile surfaces increased abdominal muscle activity (eg, for curl-up on a stable surface, rectus abdominis muscle activity was 21% of MVC and external oblique muscle activity was 5% of MVC; for curl-up with the upper torso on a labile ball, rectus abdominis muscle activity was 35% of MVC and external oblique muscle activity was 10% of MVC). Furthermore, it appears that increases in external oblique muscle activity were larger than those of other abdominal muscles. Performing curl-ups on labile surfaces changes both the level of muscle activity and the way that the muscles coactivate to stabilize the spine and the whole body. This finding suggests a much higher demand on the motor control system, which may be desirable for specific stages in a rehabilitation program.
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Background: Strengthening of core hip, trunk, and abdominal muscles has been utilized with injury prevention and low back pain and has the potential to improve athletic performance. Hypothesis: During a side-bridge, trunk and thigh muscles on the ipsilateral weightbearing side would produce greater activation than their counterparts on the contralateral nonweightbearing side. Study design: Descriptive laboratory study. Methods: Twelve females and 13 males participated. Electromyography (EMG) signals were gathered for 5 right-sided muscles (rectus abdominis [RA], external oblique [EO], longissimus thoracis [LT], lumbar multifidus [LM], and gluteus medius [GM]) during 3 repetitions of 4 side-bridging exercises (trunk-elevated side support [TESS], foot-elevated side support [FESS], clamshell, and rotational side-bridge [RSB]) performed bilaterally in random order using surface electrodes. EMG signals were normalized to peak activity in maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) trials and expressed as a percentage. Descriptive EMG data were calculated for EMG recruitment (% MVIC) and compared between right side up and right side down conditions and between exercises with 2-way repeated-measures analyses of variance at α = 0.05. Results: RSB created the most muscle activation in 3 of 4 recorded trunk muscles (RA, 43.9% MVIC; EO, 62.8 % MVIC; and LT, 41.3% MVIC). Activation of the GM exceeded 69% MVIC for TESS, FESS, and RSB. With the exception of the RA in RSB and LT in TESS, recruitment within muscles of the ipsilateral weightbearing trunk and thigh (% MVIC) was significantly greater than their counterparts on the nonweightbearing trunk and thigh for all muscles during the side-bridge exercise conditions. Conclusion: Muscle recruitment was greater within muscles of the ipsilateral weightbearing trunk and thigh for all examined muscles except RA during RSB and LT during TESS. Activation at or above 50% MVIC is needed for strengthening. Activation of the GM and EO meets these requirements. Clinical relevance: Side-bridge exercises appear to provide strengthening benefits to core hip, trunk, and abdominal muscles on the ipsilateral weightbearing side.
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Objective Suspension exercise has been advocated as an effective means to improve core stability among healthy individuals and those with musculoskeletal complaints. However, the activity of core muscles during suspension exercises has not been reported. In this study, we investigated the level of activation of core muscles during suspension exercises within young and healthy adults. Design The study was conducted in a controlled laboratory setting. Methods Surface electromyographic (sEMG) activity of core muscles (rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique/transversus abdominis, and superficial lumbar multifidus) during four suspension workouts (hip abduction in plank, hamstring curl, chest press, and 45° row) was investigated. Muscle activity during a 5-s hold period of the workouts was measured by sEMG and normalized to the individual's maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC). Results Different levels of muscle activation were observed during the hip abduction in plank, hamstring curl, and chest press. Hip abduction in plank generated the highest activation of most abdominal muscles. The 45° row exercise generated the lowest muscle activation. Conclusions Among the four workouts investigated, the hip abduction in plank with suspension was found to have the strongest potential strengthening effect on core muscles. Also, suspension training was found to generate relatively high levels of core muscle activation when compared with that among previous studies of core exercises on stable and unstable support surfaces.
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Objectives To assess abdominal muscles (AM) activity during prone, side, and supine bridge on stable and unstable surfaces (BOSU, Swiss Ball). Design Prospective comparison study. Setting Research laboratory. Participants Thirty-three healthy volunteers from a university population. Main outcome measures Surface electromyography of the rectus abdominis (RA), the external oblique (EO) and the internal oblique with the transversus abdominis (IO-TA). Results The AM exhibited the highest activity during prone bridge on a Swiss Ball (RA, EO, IO-TA 44.7 ± 19.2, 54.7 ± 22.9, 36.8 ± 18.6 in % of MVC, respectively). The lowest activity was observed during supine bridge on a stable surface and a BOSU (under 5.0). The lowest ratio analyzed on the basis of the relation of EO and IO-TA activity to RA was obtained during prone bridge on the Swiss Ball (1.4 ± 0.7 for EO, 0.9 ± 0.5 for IO-TA). The highest ratio was obtained during prone bridge on stable surface and supine bridges. Conclusions The highest level of activity in the abdominal muscles is achieved during prone bridge on a Swiss Ball. However, this exercise provided the lowest activity of the EO and IO-TA in relation to RA. It is essential to conduct further studies verifying the usefulness of using Swiss Ball during core stability training.
Article
This study examined the electromyographic (EMG) response of the upper rectus abdominis (URA), lower rectus abdominis (LRA), internal obliques (IOs), external obliques (EOs), and the rectus femoris (RF) during various abdominal exercises (crunch, supine V-up, prone V-up on ball, prone V-up on slide board, prone V-up on TRX, and prone V-up on Power Wheel). The subjects (n = 21) performed an isometric contraction of the abdominal musculature while performing these exercises. Testing revealed no statistically significant differences between any of the exercises with respect to the EOs, the URA, or the LRA. However, when examining the IO muscle, the supine V-up exercise displayed significantly greater muscle activity than did the slide exercise. In addition, EMG activity of the RF during the crunch was significantly less than in any of the other 5 exercises. These results indicate that when performing isometric abdominal exercises, non-equipment-based exercises stressed the abdominal muscles similarly to equipment-based exercises. Based on the findings of the current study, the benefit of training the abdominal musculature in an isometric fashion using commercial equipment could be called into question.