Changes in the normal characteristic pattern of abdominal muscle thickness in rowers with low back pain

Rankin, G., Stokes, M. and Newham, D. (2002) Changes in the normal characteristic pattern of abdominal muscle thickness in rowers with low back pain. Clinical Rehabilitation: Proceedings of SRR, 16, (1), 112-113.


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Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, London and
Applied Biomedical Research Group, GKT
School of Biomedical Sciences, King’s College
Background: The relationship between the size
and therefore force-generating capacity of individual
abdominal muscles is unknown and may
be influenced by various factors. The aim of this
study was to investigate the normal relative contribution
of individual muscles to total abdominal
muscle thickness, and to examine the
association with training and low back pain
Method: Three groups of male subjects (age
range 18–30 years) were studied: elite rowers
with (n = 10) or without (n = 20) current or previous
LBP and age-matched controls (n = 18).
Real-time ultrasound imaging was used to measure
the external oblique (EO), internal oblique(IO), transversus abdominis (TA) and rectus
abdominis (RA) bilaterally. The relative thickness
of each muscle was expressed as a percentage
of total abdominal muscle thickness.
Results: The controls and rowers without LBP
showed the same pattern of order of relative
thickness. As a group the rowers with LBP were
not signifiŽcantly different from the other two
groups. However, as each rower with LBP
showed a different pattern and considerable individual
variation, analysis of group means was
therefore inappropriate. Fisher’s Exact Test classifi
Žed the rowers with LBP as showing signiŽfi
cantly abnormal patterns (p < 0.05). An example
of a rower with LBP is shown in Figure 1.
Discussion: A characteristic pattern of relative
abdominal muscle thickness was found in controls
and rowers without LBP. In rowers with
LBP the pattern was altered; this could be a
cause or effect of LBP.
Conclusions: Ultrasound imaging can be used to
aid assessment of abdominal muscle involvement
in LBP. Specific abnormalities could be
addressed by individual exercise programmes,
the effects of which need to be evaluated to provide
evidence for rehabilitation.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0269-2155 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: ultrasound imaging, abdominal muscles, rowers, low back pain
Subjects: R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Q Science > QP Physiology
Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Health Sciences
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > Superseded (SOHPRS)
ePrint ID: 58604
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:40

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