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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2009 Oct;19(5):763-73. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Immediate effects of co-contraction training on motor control of the trunk muscles in people with recurrent low back pain.

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CCRE in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Although deficits in the activation of abdominal muscles are present in people with low back pain (LBP), this can be modified with motor training. Training of deep abdominal muscles in isolation from the other trunk muscles, as an initial phase of training, has been shown to improve the timing of activation of the trained muscles, and reduce symptoms and recurrence of LBP. The aim of this study was to determine if training of the trunk muscles in a non-isolated manner can restore motor control of these muscles in people with LBP. Ten subjects with non-specific LBP performed a single session of training that involved three tasks: "abdominal curl up", "side bridge" and "birdog". Electromyographic activity (EMG) of trunk and deltoid muscles was recorded with fine-wire and surface electrodes during rapid arm movements and walking, before and immediately following the intervention. Onset of trunk muscle EMG relative to that of the prime mover (deltoid) during arm movements and the mean, standard deviation (SD) and coefficient of variation of abdominal muscle EMG during walking were calculated. There was no significant change in the times of onset of trunk muscle EMG during arm movements nor was there any change in the variability of EMG of the abdominal muscles during walking. However, the mean amplitude and SD of abdominal EMG was reduced during walking after training. The results of this study suggest that unlike isolated voluntary training, co-contraction training of the trunk muscles does not restore the motor control of the deep abdominal muscles in people with LBP after a single session of training.

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