Background: Evidence has shown that velocity-specific exercise results in additional benefits for peripheral joint muscles by promoting their functions, however, its effects on spinal muscles are yet to be investigated. This study aimed to examine the feasibility and effects of velocity-specific exercise compared to isometric exercise on cervical muscle functions and performance in healthy individuals. Methods: Thirty healthy adults were randomised to practise either the velocity-specific exercise (VSE, n = 15) or isometric exercise (IE, n = 15) for 6 weeks. Functions and performance of the cervical extensors and flexors were assessed pre- and post-program, by analyzing the peak torque and electromyography during the isokinetic testing, and cross-sectional area of the deep cervical muscles at rest. The self-reported level of difficulty and post-exercise soreness during the exercise were recorded to evaluate the feasibility and safety of the two exercise programs. Results: Both VSE and IE exercises resulted in significant improvement of the muscle functions and performance while there were no between-group differences at reassessment of the (a) cross-sectional area of longus colli and semispinalis capitis; (b) EMG amplitude in sternocleidomastoid and cervical erector spinae, and (c) peak torque values. Further analysis revealed that degree of correlation between extension torque and EMG amplitude of cervical erector spinae increased in both groups. However, significant correlation was found only in VSE group post-program. There were no significant differences for the level of difficulty and post-exercise soreness found between two groups. Conclusions: Both velocity-specific and isometric exercises significantly promoted cervical muscle functions and performance. The present study confirms that velocity-specific exercise can be practised safely and it also contributes to a greater enhancement in neuromuscular efficiency of the cervical extensors. These findings indicate that the velocity-specific exercise can be considered as a safe alternative for training of the cervical muscles. Further study is recommended to examine its benefit and application for promoting the muscle functions and recovery in symptomatic individuals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine