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Hip- and Thigh-Muscle Activation During the Star Excursion Balance Test

Beth Norris and Elaine Trudelle-Jackson


The Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) is often used to train and assess dynamic balance and neuromuscular control. Few studies have examined hip- and thigh-muscle activation during the SEBT.


To quantify hip- and thigh-muscle activity during the SEBT.


Repeated measures.




22 healthy individuals, 11 men and 11 women.


EMG measurements were taken as participants completed 3 trials of the anterior (A), medial (M), and posteromedial (PM) reach directions of the SEBT.

Main Outcome Measures:

Mean EMG data (% maximal voluntary isometric contraction) from the gluteus medius (Gmed), gluteus maximus (Gmax), and vastus medialis (VM) were measured during the eccentric phase of each SEBT reach direction. Test–retest reliability of EMG data across the 3 trials in each direction was calculated. EMG data from each muscle were compared across the 3 reach directions.


Test–retest reliability ranged from ICC3,1 values of .91 to .99. A 2-way repeated-measure ANOVA revealed a significant interaction between muscle activation and reach direction. One-way ANOVAs showed no difference in GMed activity between the A and M directions. GMed activity in the A and M directions was greater than in the PM direction. There was no difference in GMax and VM activity across the 3 directions.


GMed was recruited most effectively when reaching was performed in the A and M directions. The A, M, and PM directions elicited similar patterns of muscle recruitment for the GMax and VM. During all 3 SEBT directions, VM activation exceeded the 40–60% threshold suggested for strengthening effects. GMed activity also exceeded the threshold in the M direction. GMax activation, however, was below the 40% threshold for all 3 reach directions, suggesting that performing dynamic lower extremity reaching in the A, M, and PM directions may not elicit strengthening effects for the GMax.