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Annina B. Schmid, Linda Dyer, Thomas Böni, Ulrike Held, and Florian Brunner

Context:

Various studies report decreased muscle activation in the concavity of the curve in patients with scoliosis. Such decreased muscle-performance capacity could lead to sustained postural deficits.

Objective:

To investigate whether specific asymmetrical sports therapy exercises rather than symmetrical back strengthening can increase EMG amplitudes of paraspinal muscles in the concavity of the curve.

Design:

Cross-sectional.

Setting:

Laboratory.

Participants:

16 patients with idiopathic scoliosis.

Interventions:

Patients performed 4 back-strengthening exercises (front press, lat pull-down, roman chair, bent-over barbell row) during 1 test session. Each exercise was performed in a symmetrical and asymmetrical variant and repeated 3 times.

Main Outcome Measure:

EMG amplitudes of the paraspinal muscles were recorded in the thoracic and lumbar apexes of the scoliotic curve during each exercise. Ratios of convex- to concave-side EMG activity were calculated.

Results:

Statistical analysis revealed that the asymmetrical variants of front press at the lumbar level (P = .002) and roman chair and bent-over barbell row at the thoracic level (P < .0001, .001 respectively) were superior in increasing EMG amplitudes in the concavity of the scoliotic curve.

Conclusions:

Specific asymmetrical exercises increase EMG amplitudes of paraspinal muscles in the concavity. If confirmed in longitudinal studies measuring improvements of postural deficits, these exercises may advance care of patients with scoliosis.

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Florian Brunner, Annina Schmid, Ali Sheikhzadeh, Margareta Nordin, Jangwhon Yoon, and Victor Frankel

The authors conducted a systematic review of the literature for scientific articles in selected databases to determine the effects of aging on Type II muscle fibers in human skeletal muscles. They found that aging of Type II muscle fibers is primarily associated with a loss of fibers and a decrease in fiber size. Morphological changes with increasing age particularly included Type II fiber grouping. There is conflicting evidence regarding the change of proportion of Type II fibers. Type II muscle fibers seem to play an important role in the aging process of human skeletal muscles. According to this literature review, loss of fibers, decrease in size, and fiber-type grouping represent major quantitative changes. Because the process of aging involves various complex phenomena such as fiber-type coexpression, however, it seems difficult to assign those changes solely to a specific fiber type.

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Wolf-Stephan Rudi, Florian Maier, Dominik Schüttler, Antonia Kellnar, Anna Katharina Strüven, Wolfgang Hamm, and Stefan Brunner

Background: Although many countries have introduced strict guidelines regarding mouth and nose coverage in public to contain infection rates during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, more information is needed regarding the impact of wearing face masks on lactate thresholds (LT) and performance parameters during exercise. Methods: Ten healthy male and 10 healthy female subjects (age = 33.4 [10.26] y, body mass index = 23.52 [2.36] kg/m2) performed 3 incremental performance tests, wearing no mask (NM), surgical mask (SM), and filtering face piece mask class 2 (FFP2), with a cycle ergometer. The authors analyzed changes in the LT, in blood gas parameters, and in the rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Results: Performance at LT remained unchanged in subjects wearing SM or FFP2 in comparison with NM (162.5 [50.6] vs 167.2 [58.9] vs 162.2 [58.4] W with NM, SM, and FFP2, respectively, P = .24). However, the peak performance was significantly reduced wearing FFP2 compared with NM (213.8 [71.3] vs 230.5 [77.27] W, FFP2 vs NM, respectively, P < .001). Capillary pCO2 was increased while wearing SM as well as FFP2 compared with NM (29 [3.1] vs 33.3 [4] vs 35.8 [4.9] mmHg with NM, SM, and FFP2, respectively; P < .001), and pO2 decreased under maximum performance (84 [6.7] vs 79.1 [7.5] vs 77.3 [8.2] mmHg with NM, SM, and FFP2, P < .01). Importantly, rating of perceived exertion was significantly increased by wearing FFP2 compared with NM at LT according to Mader (16.7 [2.7] vs 15.3 [1.8] FFP2 vs NM, respectively, P < .01). Conclusion: Wearing face masks during exercise showed no effect on LT, limited maximum performance, and induced discrete changes in capillary pCO2 and pO2 within the physiologic range while increasing RPE at LT.