Study design: A quantitative biomechanical comparison of seven different lumbar spine "stabilization exercises."
Objectives: The purpose of this research was to quantify lumbar spine stability resulting from the muscle activation patterns measured when performing selected stabilization exercises.
Summary of background data: Many exercises are termed "stabilization exercises" for the low back; however, limited attempts have been made to quantify spine stability and the resultant tissue loading. Ranking resultant stability together with spinal load is very helpful for guiding clinical decision-making and therapeutic exercise design.
Methods: Eight stabilization exercises were quantified in this study. Spine kinematics, external forces, and 14 channels of torso EMG were recorded for each exercise. These data were input into a modified version of a lumbar spine model described by Cholewicki and McGill (1996) to quantify stability and L4-L5 compression.
Results: A rank order of the various exercises was produced based on stability, muscle activation levels, and lumbar compression.
Conclusions: Quantification of the calibrated muscle activation levels together with low back compression and resultant stability assists clinical decisions regarding the most appropriate exercise for specific patients and specific objectives.