Muscle strength of the lumbar spine in different sports

Technol Health Care. 2013;21(4):379-86. doi: 10.3233/THC-130739.


Background: The ability to stabilize the body center (core stability) against dynamic movements of the extremities and capability to absorb repetitive loading forces in the trunk play a crucial role in any professional sport specific performance.

Objective: The aim our cross sectional level of evidence 3 study was to determine, if athletes of different sport disciplines showed specific trunk strength profiles and if these were different from a control group.

Methods: 20 ironman triathletes, 18 amateur volleyball and 18 amateur soccer players were tested for their individual isometric strength of the lumbar spine in three planes of motion using a standartized test device.

Results: The test profile revealed similar strength parameters for extension and lateral flexion to the left in each of the 3 study groups tested. The lateral flexion to the right was significantly stronger than in the control group (soccer > volleyball > triathlon). In all 3 groups, weaknesses were found in the abdominal musculature, showing highly significant differences in flexion and bilateral rotation compared to the control group (p=0.001).

Conclusions: Our study shows that sports specific training for triathlon, as well as the team sports soccer and volleyball, does not lead to balanced trunk musculature and core stability. In consequence predisposing injury and muscle dysbalane can trigger pain syndromes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • Back Muscles / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Soccer / physiology
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Volleyball / physiology