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Emily Cavallaro, Kate Pfile, J. Megan Irwin, Wesley D. Dudgeon. College of Charleston, Charleston, SC.

BACKGROUND: Many exercise modalities have been developed and marketed to improve core muscle function, and likewise there are multiple training programs that aim to improve balance. These variables are of interest given they are inherent to performing activities of daily living (ADLs) and maintaining physical activity levels. Our previous work has shown that TRX suspension training (SuT) is effective at improving body composition, muscular strength and muscular endurance in college aged females; however, the very nature of this exercise modality should also improve core muscle function and balance. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of six weeks of SuT in improving balance and core muscle function. METHODS: Sixteen SuT naïve females (19.6 +/-1.5 yrs; 167.3+/-4.6 cm; 62.4+/-7.4 kg) progressed through a six-week supervised training program consisting of 18 50-60-minute interval style workouts. Control subjects (n=5) maintained their normal activity levels. Dynamic balance was assessed using the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT). Static balance was assessed using the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS). Core endurance was assessed using the Endurance Plank Test. The same test protocols were used for pre and post testing. RESULTS: Dependent measures t-test analysis showed improvements (p<.05) in right leg stance SEBT scores (expressed as percentage of reference leg length) in all directions: anterior (pre=75.3+/-4.8, post=81.9+/10c %), posteromedial (105+/-13.3 to 116+/-14.1 %) and posterolateral (97.0+/-10.7 to 105.1+/-10.4 %). The SuT group also showed left leg improvements (p<.05) in the anterior (74.8+/-4.4 to 81.0+/- 11.8 %), posteromedial (105.6+/-711.9 to 113.0 +/- 12.3 %) and posterolateral (98.3+/-12.4 to 108.0+/-11.1 %) directions. There was an improvement in plank time (105.2+/-40.6 to 141.6+/-46.9 seconds: p<.05) in the SuT group. No difference in BESS scores were observed over time. There were no changes in any dependent variables in the control group. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that six weeks of SuT facilitated improvements in bilateral dynamic balance and core endurance. Additional work is needed to assess additional core stability and balance measures as well as to explain the lack of improvements observed in static postural control.

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