Effect of the Abdominal Draw-In Maneuver and Bracing on Abdominal Muscle Thickness and the Associated Subjective Difficulty in Healthy Individuals

Healthcare (Basel). 2020 Nov 19;8(4):496. doi: 10.3390/healthcare8040496.


We evaluated the trunk abdominal muscle thickness while performing different exercises to identify the most effective training and to investigate the subjective difficulty associated with exercising. Twenty-eight men (mean age: 21.6 ± 0.9 years) without orthopedic diseases were enrolled. Ultrasonic imaging was used to measure the thickness of the transversus abdominis (TA), internal oblique, and external oblique muscles while at rest and while performing the abdominal draw-in maneuver and abdominal bracing. Measurements were made in the supine and sitting positions, and the subjective difficulty in performing each exercise was examined using a 5-level evaluation scale. The TA and internal oblique muscle thicknesses were significantly greater during the abdominal draw-in maneuver (ADIM) than during bracing or resting, in the supine and sitting positions. The subjective difficulty of abdominal bracing (AB) was graded significantly higher than that of ADIM. Additionally, a correlation between subjective difficulty and muscle thickness was found for the TA and IO. Our results may contribute to the choice of more effective exercises for spinal stability.

Keywords: bracing; draw-in maneuver; posture; stability exercise; subjective difficulty; transversus abdominis.