Effects of Instability on Core Muscle Activation in a Side Bridge


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Effects of Instability on Core Muscle Activation in a Side Bridge is a well-researched Life sciences Master’s Thesis topic, it is to be used as a guide or framework for your Academic Research.


The core has been described as the musculature of the spine and pelvis that are
responsible for maintaining stability of the spinal column (4,13). Core stability is increasingly perceived as an essential component of conditioning and rehabilitation programs.

A stable core allows for greater force generation, while also helping maintain balance and decreasing the risk of injuries. The benefits of increasing core stability can lead to improvements in sport performance, as well as help with rehabilitation of an injury (11).

In activities of daily living and in sports, the core muscles usually co-contract and stiffen the core through isometric contraction.

Suggesting that the core muscles should be trained in a different way than the limbs of the body. Research by McGill (11) has shown that the core should be a source of stabilization, and not an initiator of movement.

Previous research has shown that training the core in a stabilized position with a load maintained against the natural curve of the spine (neutral) is the safest and most effective way to train the core (9).

As explained by McGill (11), there are three ways that core stiffness enhances
performance: 1. Stiffening the torso transfers the full force and movement of muscles to the distal side of the ball and socket joints, of the hips and shoulders, thus creating greater limb strength and speed; 2.

Load bearing capacity and prevention of buckling or bending, is enhanced by stiffening of the core; 3. Stiffness creates muscular turgor, which helps protect vital
abdominal structures.

In athletic training programs, core strengthening often involves movement-based exercises, such as a sit up or Russian twist. While these exercises place a challenge on the core muscles, their movement-based mechanisms can lead to spinal injury (6).

Since the core plays such an important role in everyday life and in sports, it is important that exercise professionals know how to properly train their clients.

This involves training the core for stability, not movement. Knowing how to regress and progress core exercises, while maintaining core safety, is essential to properly training individuals.

Approximately 85% percent of people will experience low back pain during their lifetime(9). This pain is commonly a result of spinal flexion and trunk instability (11). Core training should be done with the focus on stability and endurance.

If exercises are done repeatedly without these qualities, there is an increased risk for injury. The side bridge is one of three major spine safe exercises suggested by McGill (11). The side bridge, along with the curl up and bird dog, produce stabilizing patterns, while maintaining a low spinal load making them a spine safe exercise.

A study done by McGill (10), investigated different progressions of a side bridge, and the results demonstrated a clear progression for the side bridge exercise. Performing the exercise on the knees was the easiest variation while rolling from a right-side bridge to the left side created the greatest challenge.

However, McGill’s study only looked at bodyweight side bridge progressions. Core exercises can also be progressed using a variety of equipment.

The use of instability devices to train the core continues to be popular in all training settings. One of the most popular devices is a Swiss Ball. Previous research has shown that adding a Swiss ball to core exercise
can increase muscle activation (2,7,8,13,14). Another device that is growing in popularity is a suspension trainer (TRX).

Suspension trainers are anchored to a single point and have two mobile straps with handles. One study found that performing a pushup in a suspension device led to greater activation of the external oblique and rectus abdominis (1).

However, Snarr et al. (13) compared a prone plank on a swiss ball to a prone plank in a suspension device and found there was greater activation on both instability devices when compared to the ground, but there were no significant differences between the ball and TRX. While Snarr et al.


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Master's Thesis


Life Sciences

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