Electromyographic analysis of transversus abdominis and lumbar multifidus using wire electrodes during lumbar stabilization exercises

Yu Okubo, Koji Kaneoka*, Atsushii Mai, Itsuo Shiina, Masaki Tatsumura, Shigeki Izumi, Shumpei Miyakawa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To measure trunk muscle activity using wire electrodes during lumbar stabilization exercises and to examine if more effective exercises to activate the deep trunk muscles (local muscles) exist. BACKGROUND: Lumbar stabilization exercises are performed to improve motor control of trunk muscles. However, the magnitude of activation of local muscles during lumbar stabilization exercises is not clear. METHODS: Nine healthy men with no history of lumbar spine disorders participated in the study. Fine-wire electrodes were inserted into the transversus abdominis (TrA) and lumbar multifidus, bilaterally. In addition, surface electrodes were attached to the rectus abdominis, external obliques, and erector spinae, bilaterally. Electromyographic signal amplitude was measured during the following exercises: elbow-toe, hand-knee, back bridge, side bridge, and curl-up. Two-way analyses of variance were used to compare muscle activity level among RESULTS: The exercise showing the greatest activity level for the TrA was elbow-toe exercise with contralateral arm and leg lift. In addition, for the TrA, a significant side-to-side difference in activation level was demonstrated for 7 of the 11 exercises that were performed. The activity level of the multifidus was greatest during the back bridge exercises. The curlup exercise generated the highest activity level for the rectus abdominis and the back bridge, with single-leg lift exercises generating the highest erector spinae activity. CONCLUSIONS: The exercises investigated in this study resulted in a wide range of effort level for all 5 muscles monitored. Many of the exercises also resulted in an asymmetrical (right versus left side) activation level for a muscle, including the TrA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-750
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov


  • Erector spinae
  • Hug
  • Low back
  • Lumbar spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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