Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the multifidus electromyographic activity in healthy women during the performance of the same Pilates exercise under 2 conditions.
Methods: Sixteen healthy, active, female practitioners of Pilates (mean age, 24.3; SD, 3.1 years) were assessed through surface electromyography during 2 Pilates exercises (swan dive and breast stroke). Muscle activity during the experimental tasks was recorded with 1 pair of electrodes placed bilaterally on the multifidi. Data were normalized to maximal activity recorded during dynamic activity.
Results: The mean of the maximal isometric voluntary contraction was 662.4 N (SD, 195). In the phase comparison, the multifidus was the most recruited on the concentric phase during both exercises, ball (P = .001) and reformer (P = .001). In the comparison between conditions, the reformer presented more activation on swan dive (P = .04) and breast stroke (P = .001). The percentages of muscle activation varied between 50% and 60%, and the greatest activation was made on the reformer condition.
Conclusion: The findings of this study show that Pilates exercises by healthy women, under different conditions, can cause changes to the multifidus muscle activation. The condition and the phase in which the muscle was more activated were the reformer and concentric phase, respectively, for both exercises. However, the results for the percentages of activation suggest that the intensity of recruitment may not be sufficient to strengthen muscle in healthy, trained subjects.
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