Strength Testing with Side Planks

assessment Feb 15, 2018

The side plank test is typically a measure of core endurance and dictates that the subject brace themselves in a neutral and extended 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.

However, performing this test with a leg lift also allows assessment of hip abductor endurance (Youdas et al., 2014). 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)

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