Strength Testing with Side Planks

assessment Feb 15, 2018

Why Is Core Strength Important?

Core strength has long been associated as an important capacity for athletes and the general population to improve performance, improve posture and potentially reduce the risk of injuries. 

Having a strong core has been implicated in improving the stability of the trunk connecting the lower and upper half of the body. This may also improve balance and control as well as minimizing falls risk.

How To Assess Core Strength?

The Side Plank Test is a simple and easy to administer core endurance assessment that assesses the strength of the lateral muscles of the core and requires little to no equipment.

To perform the Side Plank Test the subject is instructed to brace themselves in a neutral side-lying position on the forearm with the shoulder directly above the elbow, whilst the top leg and trunk is raised and held for as long as possible.

The assessor times how long the client can support themselves in this position until failure.

The Side Plank Test can be progressed by performing this test with a leg lift which allows for more focused assessment of hip abductor endurance (Youdas et al., 2014).

Why Use A Side Plank Test To Assess Core Strength?

Functionally, core and hip control and endurance serves as the foundation for force transference between upper and lower body and is relevant across patient and sporting populations (Van Der Merwe, Burden, & Maulder, 2017).

Studies looking at core and hip abductor endurance have shown:

  • Poor core stability and endurance to be linked to increased rates of low back pain and lower extremity injuries (Leetun, Ireland, Willson, Ballantyne, & Davis, 2004)
    Improving core hip, trunk and abdominal strength and endurance may improve athletic performance (Youdas et al., 2004)
  • The side plank to result in reduced lumbar spine compressive loading associated with other testing measures such as back extensions or trunk curls (McGill, 1998)
    Poor side plank endurance to be associated with increased hip internal rotation, suggesting weakness of the hip abductors in order to increase side plank testing time (Schmitz, Russo, Edwards, & Noehren, 2014)
  • A recommendation that novice runners target core and hip abductor endurance for increased performance (Schmitz et al., 2014)
  • Normal times of approximately 94 seconds in Males and 72 seconds in Females have been seen in young healthy individuals. (McGill et al 1999)

Are you using Side Plank Tests with your patients and clients?

Join the thousands of therapists and trainers worldwide who have stopped guessing and started measuring their patients and clients using objective strength testing and the MAT.

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