Transversus abdominis and multifidus asymmetry in runners measured by MRI: a cross-sectional study
journal contributionposted on 2019-09-01, 00:00 authored by U H Mitchell, A W Johnson, Patrick OwenPatrick Owen, Timo RantalainenTimo Rantalainen, Daniel BelavyDaniel Belavy
Objective The transversus abdominis muscle (TrA) is active during running as a secondary respiratory muscle and acts, together with the multifidus, as trunk stabiliser. The purpose of this study was to determine size and symmetry of TrA and multifidus muscles at rest and with contraction in endurance runners without low back pain. Design Cross-sectional study. Setting A medical imaging centre in Melbourne, Australia. Participants Thirty middle-aged (43years±7) endurance-trained male (n=18) and female (n=12) runners without current or history of low back pain. Outcome measures MRI at rest and with the core engaged. The TrA and multifidus muscles were measured for thickness and length (TrA) and anteroposterior and mediolateral thickness (multifidus). Muscle activation was extrapolated from rest to contraction and compared with the same and contralateral side. Paired t-tests were performed to compare sides and contraction status. Results Left and right TrA and multifidus demonstrated similar parameters at rest (p>0.05). However, with contraction, the right TrA and multifidus (in mediolateral direction) were 9.2% (p=0.038) and 42% (p<0.001) thicker, respectively, than their counterparts on the left. There was no TrA thickness side difference with contraction in left-handed participants (p=0.985). When stratified by sex, the contracted TrA on the right side remained 8.4% thicker, but it was no longer statistically significant (p=0.134). The side difference with contraction of the TrA became less with increasing training age. Conclusions Right-handed long-term runners without low back pain exhibit a greater right side core muscle activation when performing an isometric contraction. This activation preference diminishes with increasing training age.