Unstable surface or not?
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|Fri, 06-18-2010 - 7:14am|
Another article from Fitbits. This one compares using a stable surface to an unstable one. For the plank, unstable uses more muscle but you use your transverse abdominis LESS on a stability ball than on a stable surface. Interesting. I think people are too busy trying not to fall off the ball and don't do as good of a crunch, maybe.
Stability Ball Enhances
Lumbar Stabilization Training
The use of unstable surface training (UST) has come under fire in recent years. Whether misunderstood or misused, there is definitely a need for additional study on UST to determine the best applications in fitness environments. In a recent study, researchers tested the difference in muscle activation during trunk or core exercise both on stable and unstable surfaces.
Researchers used surface EMG to measure muscle recruitment patterns during five traditional lumbar stabilization exercises in 9 subjects. The peak recruitment of 5 core muscles was recorded: rectus abdominus, lumbar multifidus, erector spinae, transverse abdominus, and external oblique. Participants performed the plank, curl-up, side plank, back bridge and birddog on both stable surface and an unstable surface (i.e. stability ball, disc, etc).
The plank increased muscle activity in all muscles when on the unstable surface. When using the unstable surface the quadruped birddog, and side plank, however, saw only increases in superficial muscle activity, and not deep core (i.e. transverse abdominus and multifidus). Interestingly, when the curl-up was performed on a Stability Ball the recruitment of the transverse abdominus decreased, while the external obliques increased.
Unfortunately, the data from this study indicates that the back bridge did not benefit from incorporating the unstable surface.
Although the jury remains "out" on standing UST and performance, there appears to be a useful application for prone and side stabilizing activities. Moreover, as “core neutral” training becomes the dominant form of abdominal strengthening industry-wide, we need to explore ways to increase muscle activity and tension during such exercises for progression. Studies such as this are a step in that direction.
Imai, A. et al (2010) Trunk Muscle Activity During Lumbar Stabilization Exercises on Both a Stable and Unstable Surface. J Orthop Sports Phys Therapy. 40(6):369-375.