Purpose: To examine the effect of pelvic stabilization and two lower-limb configurations on the EMG activity of back and hip extensor muscles during a dynamic back extension exercise on a machine and to compare them between sexes.
Methods: Twenty-two healthy volunteers (11 men and 11 women) performed five trunk flexion-extension cycles at 40% of their maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) in a machine designed for back exercise. Two different positions were used: 1) seated position (seat horizontal, knees at 90°) and 2) semisitting position (seat slightly tilted forward at 15°, knees at 45° of flexion). In each position, three pelvic stabilization conditions were tested: 1) unrestrained (control condition), 2) partially restrained (posteriorly), and 3) totally restrained (posteriorly and anteriorly). EMG signals were recorded bilaterally with 12 pairs of electrodes placed on back muscles as well as on the gluteus maximus and biceps femoris. The muscular activation level, that is, the percentage of EMG amplitude relative to the maximal EMG obtained from MVC, was used to asses the relative contribution of each muscle group across exercises.
Results: In both sexes, two main results were found: 1) pelvic stabilization (partially and totally restrained) significantly (P < 0.05) increased the activity of all back muscles (average of 12%) and 2) semisitting position significantly decreased (range = 8-27%) the activity of two hip extensors compared with the seated position. Sex differences were also observed relative to the activity of some back muscles as well as the biceps femoris.
Conclusions: Combining pelvic stabilization and semisitting position in back exercise machines might be a useful way to localize the effects of endurance training at the back muscles and this in both the sexes.