Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-10-2017

Faculty Advisor(s)

Eric Sternlicht


The Dead Bug exercise is performed in physical therapy clinics to restore lumbar spine stability and core strength in patients with lower back pain (LBP). The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of using electromyography (EMG) feedback to enhance proper mechanics during the Dead Bug exercise. Sixteen healthy, college age students volunteered as subjects for the study. Subjects performed the Dead Bug (Fig. 1a.) with and without visual EMG cues and were given instructions on how to execute the exercise. Data was recorded using a BTS FREEEMG Analyzer and signal processed and data analyzed using the BTS SEMGanalyzer software (BTS Bioengineering, Brooklyn, NY). Electrodes were placed on the right rectus abdominis (RA) and right rectus femoris (RF) of each subject of the agonist and antagonist muscle of the movement, respectively. Subjects performed two trials of the exercise on two test days with two weeks in between testing. EMG data were normalized using subjects’ maximum voluntary contraction. Students’ paired t-tests were used for statistical analysis with a p < 0.05 used for significance. The averages of the normalized EMG data (ND) between both visual trials for RA and RF, mean + standard deviation, were 0.302 ± 0.158 and 0.118 ± 0.094, respectively. The averages of the normalized EMG data between both nonvisual trials for RA and RF were 0.284 ± 0.146 and 0.084 ± 0.049, respectively. No significant differences were found for visual and nonvisual trials for agonist and antagonist muscles (Table 2). After evaluation of the study, the study protocol was determined to not be identical to a typical physical therapy setting which utilizes continuous feedback to the patient. Therefore, pilot testing of two subjects was performed on the Dying Bug exercise (Fig. 1b&c.) with continuous visual, biomechanical, palpation, and verbal feedback. As anticipated, a positive trend was shown in mean visual values relative to nonvisual values for the targeted muscles (Table 1).


Presented at the Spring 2017 Student Research Day at Chapman University.