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Original Article

Electromyographic activity of trunk and hip muscles during stabilization exercises in four-point kneeling in healthy volunteers

Veerle K. StevensContact Information, Andry Vleeming2, Katie G. Bouche1, Nele N. Mahieu1, Guy G. Vanderstraeten1 and Lieven A. Danneels1

(1)  Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185, 6K3, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
(2)  Spine and Joint Centre, Westerlaan 10, 3016 CK Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Received: 2 February 2006  Revised: 2 June 2006  Accepted: 15 June 2006  Published online: 1 August 2006

Abstract  Stabilization exercises are intended to optimize function of the muscles that are believed to govern trunk stability. Debate exists whether certain muscles are more important than others in optimally performing these exercises. Thirty healthy volunteers were asked to perform three frequently prescribed stabilization exercises in four-point kneeling. The electromyographic activity of different trunk and hip muscles was evaluated. Average amplitudes obtained during the exercises were normalized to the amplitude in maximal voluntary contraction (% MVIC). During all three exercises, the highest relative muscle activity levels (> 20% MVIC) were consistently found in the ipsilateral lumbar multifidus and gluteus maximus. During both the single leg extension (exercise 1) and the leg and arm extension exercise (exercise 2) the contralateral internal oblique and ipsilateral external oblique reached high levels (> 20%MVIC). During exercise 2 there were also high relative activity levels of the ipsilateral lumbar part and the contralateral thoracic part of the iliocostalis lumborum and the contralateral lumbar multifidus. During the leg and arm extension exercise with contralateral hip flexion (exercise 3) there were high relative muscle activity levels of all back muscles, except for the latissimus dorsi muscle. The lowest relative muscle activity levels (< 10% MVIC) were found in the rectus abdominis and the ipsilateral internal oblique during all exercises, and in the contralateral gluteus maximus during exercises 1 and 2. The results of this study show that in exercises in four-point kneeling performed by healthy subjects, hip and trunk muscles seem to work together in a harmonious way. This shows that when relative activity of muscles is measured, both “global and local” muscles function together in order to stabilize the spine.

Keywords  Stabilization exercise - Trunk and hip muscles - Electromyography

Contact Information Veerle K. Stevens
Email: Veerle.Stevens@UGent.be

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