Effective stabilization is important to improve sports performance. Imbalanced spinal muscle responses between the left and right sides add to the risk of spinal buckling and microtrauma at the intervertebral joints. The purpose of this study was to confirm whether intensive unilateral neuromuscular training (IUNT) focusing on the non-dominant side of the low back improves balanced muscle responses and spinal stability. The IUNT group (n = 8) performed side bridge and quadruped exercises using their non-dominant trunk muscles for 8 weeks, while the control group (n = 8) performed their regular training. Prior to and after the training, motion-capture cameras measured trunk angular displacement, and electromyography recorded the activities of both multifidus muscles (L4-5) during unexpected sudden forward perturbation. After the training in the IUNT group, the difference in onset time between both sides decreased to approximately 120 % compared with that before the training. The asymmetry of muscle activities also decreased from 56 to 23 %. What’s more, the angular displacement on the sagittal plane decreased to approximately 35 % after the training.
The authors conclude that intensive unilateral neuromuscular training focused on the non-dominant side of the low back will be useful to improve balanced back muscle responses and spinal stability during sudden trunk perturbation.