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Article Title

MUSCLE ACTIVATION DURING PUSHUPS PERFORMED IN A STABLE AND UNSTABLE ENVIRONMENT IN FEMALE COLLEGIATE SOCCER PLAYERS

Abstract

Majid M.A. Syed, Dhwani S. Soni, Brittney A. Passini, Palak A. Patel, Robert G. Koeller, Dylan M. Baker, David T. Miller, Thomas J. Pujol, FACSM, Jeremy T. Barnes, Ryan J. Johnson, William M. Miller, Jason D. Wagganer; Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Many strength training programs incorporate pushup exercises, which primarily activate upper body muscles. Past data supports the fact that shoulder girdle muscles (i.e., triceps and anterior deltoid) exhibit greater electromyography activity when a push-up is performed on an unstable vs. stable surface (Park, 2011; Andrade, 2011). While greater muscle activation has been shown for healthy athletes (Freeman, 2006), very little research has been conducted on triceps and anterior deltoid muscle activation in lower body trained athletes (i.e. soccer players). Moreover, the majority of past research using EMG analysis has been performed on male athletes (Beach, 2008; Lehman, 2007; Sandhu, 2008; Andrade, 2011). PURPOSE: To determine if differences exist in muscle activation between pushups in a stable vs. unstable environment in female collegiate soccer players. METHODS: Twenty-four female collegiate soccer players (Ht:164.8 ±7.6 cm; Wt:61.7±8.4 kg) participated voluntarily. Subjects had their triceps and anterior deltoid activity assessed using electromyography (EMG) while randomly performing three consecutive regular and three consecutive suspended pushups. A repeated measures (2x2) analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted using SPSS (v19.0) to analyze the difference between the triceps and anterior deltoid muscle activation in two push up positions. RESULTS: The absolute integral (AI), which measured electrical activity based upon a standardized baseline, showed significantly higher muscle activation for the unstable compared to the stable push up for the triceps 181.1±227.9 mV (pCONCLUSIONS: The significant increase in muscle activation was attributed to the lack of hand stability incorporated into the unstable push up position. While the female soccer players in this study are well trained, their training regimen primarily activates lower body muscles. These findings provide further support that well-trained one-sport athletes can exhibit increased muscle activation in muscles that are not part of their primary sport focus. Moreover, performing exercises (i.e., pushups) in an unstable environment can effectively increase muscle activation, even for a well-trained female collegiate soccer player.

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