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Open AccessArticle

Tolerability and Muscle Activity of Core Muscle Exercises in Chronic Low-back Pain

1
Exercise Intervention for Health Research Group (EXINH-RG), Department of Physiotherapy, University of Valencia, 46010 Valencia, Spain
2
Department of Physiotherapy, University of Valencia, 46010 Valencia, Spain
3
Department of Physiotherapy, University of Malaga, 29071 Malaga, Spain
4
Laboratory of Clinical Biomechanics, Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago 8380453, Chile
5
National Research Centre for the Working Environment, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
6
Sport Sciences, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, 9100 Aalborg, Denmark
7
Haemostasis and Thrombosis Unit, Universitary and Polytechnic Hospital La Fe, 46026 Valencia, Spain
8
Department of Nursing and Physiotherapy, University of Lleida, 25003 Lleida, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3509; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193509
Received: 6 August 2019 / Revised: 11 September 2019 / Accepted: 18 September 2019 / Published: 20 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Exercise as a Therapeutic Resource)
Most of the studies evaluating core muscle activity during exercises have been conducted with healthy participants. The objective of this study was to compare core muscle activity and tolerability of a variety of dynamic and isometric exercises in patients with non-specific low back pain (NSLBP). 13 outpatients (average age 52 years; all with standing or walking work in their current or latest job) performed 3 consecutive repetitions at 15-repetition maximum during different exercises in random order. Surface electromyography was recorded for the rectus abdominis; external oblique and lumbar erector spinae. Patients rated tolerability of each exercise on a 5-point scale. The front plank with brace; front plank and modified curl-up can be considered the most effective exercises in activating the rectus abdominis; with a median normalized EMG (nEMG) value of 48% (34–61%), 46% (26–61%) and 50% (28–65%), respectively. The front plank with brace can be considered the most effective exercise in activating the external oblique; with a nEMG of 77% (60–97%). The squat and bird-dog exercises are especially effective in activing the lumbar erector spinae; with nEMG of 40% (24–87%) and 29% (27–46%), respectively. All the exercises were well tolerated; except for the lateral plank that was mostly non-tolerated. In conclusion; the present study provides a variety of dynamic and isometric exercises; where muscle activity values and tolerability can be used as guide to design evidence-based exercise programs for outpatients with NSCLBP. View Full-Text
Keywords: bridging; electromyography; plank; squat; trunk bridging; electromyography; plank; squat; trunk
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Calatayud, J.; Escriche-Escuder, A.; Cruz-Montecinos, C.; Andersen, L.L.; Pérez-Alenda, S.; Aiguadé, R.; Casaña, J. Tolerability and Muscle Activity of Core Muscle Exercises in Chronic Low-back Pain. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 3509.

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