Context: It is believed that conscious abdominal contraction (CAC) during exercise encourages greater periscapular activation through existing myofascial connections. On the other hand, it is postulated that the use of unstable surfaces would promote greater neuromuscular demand. Objective: To analyze the effect of CAC on periscapular muscle activity during push-up plus exercise on stable and unstable surfaces and to evaluate the correlation between electromyographic (EMG) activity of the serratus anterior (SA) and abdominal oblique muscles. Design: Repeated-measures design in a single group, pre–post CAC. Setting: Biomechanics laboratory. Participants: Twenty-three male volunteers without a history of lesions in the upper limbs participated in the study. Main Outcome Measures: Five repetitions of push-ups on stable and unstable surfaces were performed with and without instruction for CAC. The normalized amplitude of the EMG activity was obtained from the muscles of the upper, middle, and lower trapezius, SA upper (SA_5th) and lower (SA_7th) portions, external oblique (EO), and internal oblique. Results: CAC increased the activity of the EO, internal oblique, middle trapezius, and SA (P < .05) in both surfaces. The use of the unstable surface increased the EMG activity of the EO, SA_7th, and middle trapezius and decreased the EMG activity of the SA_5th. However, all changes observed in EMG signals were of low magnitude, with effect sizes lower than 0.45. There was a weak correlation between the EMG activity of the EO and SA_5th (r = .24) and a strong correlation between the EO and SA_7th (r = .70). Conclusion: The isolated use of CAC or unstable surface during push-up seems to present no practical relevance, but the combined use of these strategies may increase activation of the SA_7th and middle trapezius muscles.
Rodrigo Cappato de Araújo, Vinícius Yan Santos Nascimento, Rafaela Joyce Barbosa Torres, Francis Trombini-Souza, David Behm and Ana Carolina Rodarti Pitangui
Natália Barros Beltrão, Camila Ximenes Santos, Valéria Mayaly Alves de Oliveira, André Luiz Torres Pirauá, David Behm, Ana Carolina Rodarti Pitangui and Rodrigo Cappato de Araújo
Context: Stretching intensity is an important variable that can be manipulated with flexibility training. However, there is a lack of evidence regarding this variable and its prescription in stretching programs. Objective: To investigate the effects of 12 weeks of knee flexor static stretching at different intensities on joint and muscle mechanical properties. Design: A randomized clinical trial. Setting: Laboratory. Participants: A total of 14 untrained men were allocated into the low- or high-intensity group. Main Outcome Measures: Assessments were performed before, at 6 week, and after intervention (12 wk) for biceps femoris long head architecture (resting fascicle length and angle), knee maximal range of motion (ROM) at the beginning and maximal discomfort angle, knee maximal tolerated passive torque, joint passive stiffness, viscoelastic stress relaxation, knee passive torque at a given angle, and affective responses to training. Results: No significant differences were observed between groups for any variable. ROM at the beginning and maximal discomfort angle increased at 6 and 12 weeks, respectively. ROM significantly increased with the initial angle of discomfort (P < .001, effect size = 1.38) over the pretest measures by 13.4% and 14.6% at the 6- and 12-week assessments, respectively, and significantly improved with the maximal discomfort angle (P < .001, effect size = 1.25) by 15.6% and 18.8% from the pretest to the 6- and 12-week assessments, respectively. No significant effects were seen for muscle architecture and affective responses. Initial viscoelastic relaxation for the low-intensity group was lower than ending viscoelastic relaxation. Conclusion: These results suggest that stretching with either low or high discomfort intensities are effective in increasing joint maximal ROM, and that does not impact on ROM, stiffness, fascicle angle and length, or affective response differences.
Vinícius Yan Santos Nascimento, Rafaela Joyce Barbosa Torres, Natália Barros Beltrão, Priscila Soares dos Santos, André Luiz Torres Pirauá, Valéria Mayaly Alves de Oliveira, Ana Carolina Rodarti Pitangui and Rodrigo Cappato de Araújo
This study evaluated the effects of instability on the EMG activity of scapular stabilizing and upper limb muscles during exercises with axial and rotational load. Twenty male volunteers (20.9 ± 1.8 years, 174.1 ± 0.04 cm, 73.17 ± 8.77 kg) experienced in strength training participated in a crossover design. Muscle activation of anterior deltoid (AD), posterior deltoid (PD), pectoralis major (PM), biceps brachii (BB), triceps brachii (TB), upper trapezius (UT), middle trapezius (MT), lower trapezius (LT), and serratus anterior (SA) were determined on both conditions. Participants performed a single series of 10 repetitions of bench press and fly exercises on stable (bench) and unstable (proprioceptive disc) conditions at 60% of 1-RM. The Friedman test and post hoc Dunn’s indicated that the unstable condition showed greater EMG activity for AD (P = .001) and BB (P = .002) on the fly exercise, SA (P = .001) and LT (P = .048) on the bench press, and PM (P ≤ .002) on both exercises. These results show that using an unstable surface in exercises with rotational load provides superior EMG activity of the agonist muscles, while in exercise with axial load, the instability favors EMG activity of the scapular stabilizing muscles.