Core Muscle Activation With Foam Rolling and Static Planks

Front Physiol. 2022 Mar 8:13:852094. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2022.852094. eCollection 2022.


The objective of this study was to compare the activation of the core (trunk) musculature during quadriceps and hamstrings foam rolling (FR) vs. prone and supine/reverse static planks to determine if FR is a viable means of training the core musculature. Using a randomized allocation, nine recreationally trained, young adults (18-26 years) performed two sets each of quadriceps and hamstrings FR as well as supine/reverse and prone static planks for 30-s each with 1-min rest between sets and 5-min rest between exercises. Electromyographic (EMG) activity of the lower abdominals (LA), external obliques (EO), lumbosacral erector spinae (LSES), upper lumbar erector spinae (ULES) muscle groups were normalized to a maximum voluntary contraction and analyzed. Quadriceps FR exhibited a very large magnitude greater LA activity compared to reverse plank (p = 0.033, d = 4.42) and hamstrings FR (p = 0.020, d = 3.49), respectively. The prone plank demonstrated very large magnitude higher EO EMG activity compared to reverse plank (p = 0.001, d = 9.17), hamstrings FR (p = 0.002, d = 8.14), and quadriceps FR (p = 0.011, d = 5.97). Reverse plank (p = 0.003, d = 12.06), and quadriceps FR (p = 0.002, d = 7.84) induced greater ULES activity compared to the prone plank and hamstrings FR, respectively. Reverse plank also exhibited very large magnitude higher LSES activity compared to the prone plank (p < 0.001, d = 7.68), hamstrings FR (p = 0.002, d = 4.11), and quadriceps FR (p = 0.005, d = 2.34), respectively. In conclusion, whereas reverse plank was the most effective activator of dorsal core muscles, quadriceps FR may also be a time efficient alternative exercise to activate back (ventral core) muscles. The prone plank is effective for ventral core muscles activation.

Keywords: abdominals; back; electromyography; erector spinae; external obliques; trunk.