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J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2007 Dec;37(12):754-62. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2007.2471. Epub 2007 Aug 29.

Electromyographic analysis of core trunk, hip, and thigh muscles during 9 rehabilitation exercises.

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Department of Physical Therapy, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD 57069, USA.



Prospective, single-group, repeated-measures design.


To identify exercises that could be used for strength development and the exercises that would be more appropriate for endurance or stabilization training.


The exercises analyzed are often used in rehabilitation programs for the spine, hip, and knee. They are active exercises using body weight for resistance; thus a clinician is unable to determine the amount of resistance being applied to a muscle group. Electromyographic (EMG) analysis can provide a measure of muscle activation so that the clinician can have a better idea about the effect the exercise may have on the muscle for strength, endurance, or stabilization.


Surface EMG analysis was carried out in 19 males and 11 females while performing the following 9 exercises: active hip abduction, bridge, unilateral-bridge, side-bridge, prone-bridge on the elbows and toes, quadruped arm/lower extremity lift, lateral step-up, standing lunge, and using the Dynamic Edge. The rectus abdominis, external oblique abdominis, longissimus thoracis, lumbar multifidus, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, vastus medialis obliquus, and hamstring muscles were studied.


In healthy subjects, the lateral step-up and the lunge exercises produced EMG levels greater than 45% maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) in the vastus medialis obliquus, which suggests that they may be beneficial for strengthening that muscle. The side-bridge exercise could be used for strengthening the gluteus medius and the external oblique abdominis muscles, and the quadruped arm/lower extremity lift exercise may help strengthen the gluteus maximus muscle. All the other exercises produced EMG levels less than 45% MVIC, so they may be more beneficial for training endurance or stabilization in healthy subjects.


Our results suggest these exercises could be used for a core rehabilitation or performance enhancement program. Depending on the individual needs of a patient or athlete, some of the exercises may be more beneficial than others for achieving strength.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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