Trunk muscle strength in athletes

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ANDERSSON, E., L. SWÄRD, and A. THORSTENSSON. Trunk muscle strength in athletes. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 20, No. 6, pp. 587–593,1988. Maximal voluntary strength of the trunk muscles was measured in 57 male elite athletes (soccer players, wrestlers, tennis players, and gymnasts), 14 female elite gymnasts, and in a normal group of 87 conscripts. Mean ages in the different groups ranged from 18–22 yr. An isokinetic (constant velocity) technique was used to record maximal torque produced by trunk and hip muscles during flexion, extension, and lateral flexion over the range of motion. The constant angular velocities used were 15 deg.·s-1 and 30 deg. ·s-1, respectively. Isometric strength was measured in a straight body position (0 deg. of flexion). The measurements were made with the subjects in a horizontal position with the pivot point at the hip and at the lumbar (L2-L3) level. All male athlete groups showed higher peak torque values than the normals. The differences were largest in hip extension and trunk flexion. The male gymnasts also showed significantly higher peak values in hip flexion as compared to all other categories. There was no difference in strength per kg body weight between female gymnasts and untrained males, except in trunk extension. The position for peak torque occurred earlier in the movements for the athletes, especially for the gymnasts in extension movements and for the tennis players in flexion movements. In isometric contractions essentially the same strength differences were present as in the slow isokinetic contractions. In lateral flexion wrestlers and tennis players showed significantly higher strength in movements toward the nondominant side. Thus, differences were present between the athletes and the normals, some of which appeared to be sport specific and related to long-term systematic training. The selective increases of the strength in certain hip and trunk muscles resulted in abnormal strength ratios in some cases similar to those earlier reported for back patients.

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