Back extensor and psoas muscle cross-sectional area, prior physical training, and trunk muscle strength--a longitudinal study in adolescent girls

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1998;77(1-2):66-71. doi: 10.1007/s004210050301.


The association between physical training, low back extensor (erector spinae plus multifidus muscles) and psoas muscle cross-sectional areas (CSA) and strength characteristics of trunk extension and flexion were studied in adolescent girls. A group of athletes (n = 49) (age range 13.7-16.3 years) consisting of gymnasts, figure skaters and ballet dancers was age-matched with non-athletes (n = 17) who acted as a sedentary control group. The CSA of psoas muscles and multifidus plus erector spinae muscles were measured from lumbar axial images by magnetic resonance imaging. Maximal trunk extension and flexion forces were measured in a standing position using a dynamometer and trunk musculature endurance was evaluated using static holding tests. When CSA were adjusted with body mass, the athletes showed significantly greater CSA in both muscles studied (psoas P < 0.001; erector spinae plus multifidus P < 0.05) than the non-athletes. The athletes also had a greater absolute psoas muscle CSA (P < 0.01) and trunk flexion force (P < 0.01) compared to the controls. When the forces were expressed relative to body mass, the athletes were superior both in trunk flexion (P < 0.001) and extension (P < 0.001). There was a significant correlation between muscle CSA and strength parameters, but the force per muscle CSA did not differ significantly between the athletes and the non-athletes. In addition, the athletes showed a better body mass adjusted muscle endurance in trunk flexion (P < 0.05) than the non-athletes. Our study indicated that regular physical training enhances trunk musculature hypertrophy, force and endurance in adolescent girls, and that there is an association between muscle CSA and strength parameters.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Back*
  • Child
  • Dancing
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Gymnastics
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Psoas Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Skating