The Relationship Between Surface Electromyographic Activity and Torque Production of the Infraspinatus Muscle in Shoulder Rehabilitation Exercises

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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In current rehabilitation practice, exercise selection is commonly based on the amount of muscle recruitment demonstrated by electromyographic (EMG) analysis. A preponderance of evidence supports the concept that EMG of a muscle and torque output are positively correlated. This study was designed to investigate the relationship between surface EMG activity of the infraspinatus and torque production during exercises involving shoulder external rotation (ER). A total of 30 participants (average age = 24.6 y) performed maximum voluntary isometric contraction of ER at 5 points within the range of motion of 3 shoulder exercise positions with concomitant surface EMG recording. As a maximal internally rotated position was approached, maximum ER torque and minimum or near-minimum EMG recruitment were demonstrated. Conversely, at maximally externally rotated positions, EMG activity was greatest and torque values were lowest. An inverse relationship between joint torque output and EMG activity was established in each of the 3 exercises. The inverse relationship between EMG activity and torque output during Shoulder ER suggests that there may be additional factors warranting consideration during exercise selection. Further research may be needed to determine the relative value of electrical activity versus torque output to optimize the selection of rehabilitative exercises.

Stodart and Cup are with the Department of Physical Therapy, Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA, USA. Kindel is with the School of Physical Therapy, Anderson University, located at the University Center Greenville, Greenville, SC, USA.

Kindel (ckindel@andersonuniversity.edu) is corresponding author.
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