The use of lumbar spinal stabilization techniques during the performance of abdominal strengthening exercises

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Barnett, F & Gilleard, WL 2005, 'The use of lumbar spinal stabilization techniques during the performance of abdominal strengthening exercise variations', The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 38-43.


Aim. The lumbar spinal stabilization techniques in abdominal hollowing and bracing are known to facilitate the level of activity in the muscles transversus abdominis and obliquus internus (TA/OI). The relative timing of activation and the effect of combination with other tasks are currently unknown. The objective of this study was to determine whether the performance of abdominal hollowing and bracing could promote the voluntary preferential recruitment of TA/OI muscles when performed prior to abdominal strengthening exercise variations. Methods. The trunk muscles TA/OI, rectus abdominis and obliquus externus were investigated using surface EMG. A pressure transducer under the lumbar spine detected spinal movement. Eighteen male subjects performed a series of 4 abdominal strengthening exercise variations. Pressure cuff and electromyographic onset times were collected and analyzed. Results. TA/OI muscle site was recruited significantly earlier than the upper rectus abdominis site for the hollow with curl exercise. The TA/OI site was also ranked as first activated site in the majority of subjects during exercises where stabilization techniques of hollowing and bracing were used. Conclusion. Abdominal hollowing was an effective method for selective preferential voluntary recruitment of TA/OI site prior to the performance of the curl type abdominal strengthening exercise variation. The other variations brace with curl and hold and hollow with rotation also tend to recruit TA/OI site first, however the timing was not significantly different.

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