The effect of short-term isometric training on core/torso stiffness

J Sports Sci. 2017 Sep;35(17):1724-1733. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1235791. Epub 2016 Sep 26.


"Core" exercise is a basic part of many physical training regimens with goals ranging from rehabilitation of spine and knee injuries to improving athletic performance. Core stiffness has been proposed to perform several functions including reducing pain by minimising joint micro-movements, and enhancing strength and speed performance. This study probes the links between a training approach and immediate but temporary changes in stiffness. Passive and active stiffness was measured on 24 participants; 12 having little to no experience in core training (inexperienced), and the other 12 being athletes experienced to core training methods; before and after a 15 min bout of isometric core exercises. Passive stiffness was assessed on a "frictionless" bending apparatus and active stiffness assessed via a quick release mechanism. Short-term isometric core training increased passive and active stiffness in most directions for both inexperienced and experienced participants, passive left lateral bend among experienced participants being the exception (P < 0.05). There was no difference between the inexperienced and experienced groups. The results confirm that the specific isometric training exercise approach tested here can induce immediate changes in core stiffness, in this case following a single session. This may influence performance and injury resilience for a brief period.

Keywords: Core; handedness of Muay Thai boxers; performance; rehabilitation; spine; stiffness.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Torso / physiology*
  • Young Adult