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The aim of this study was to examine the effect of shoulder angle on the electromyographic (EMG) activation pattern of the elbow extensors during a fatiguing contraction. Ten young men (23.5 ± 1.7) were tested on two occasions with the elbow angle at 90° and the shoulder at either 0° or 90° of flexion. EMG was recorded by fine wire electrodes inserted into the lateral, medial, and long heads of the triceps brachii and the anconeus. An EMG-torque relationship was determined prior to a sustained isometric contraction at 20% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) until target failure. Endurance time was shorter, and postfatigue MVC torque was lower at 90° (40.4 ± 12.7 Nm) versus 0° (47.9 ± 14.7 Nm) of flexion. EMG activity of the long head during the final 10% of the fatiguing contraction was significantly greater at 90° versus 0° with no effect of shoulder angle on any other muscle portions. The findings suggest that measures from one muscle portion of the elbow extensors are not representative of the whole group, and the relative activation of the two-joint long head was changed depending on shoulder angle during a fatigue task.


Andrew W Davidson, Charles L Rice. Effect of shoulder angle on the activation pattern of the elbow extensors during a submaximal isometric fatiguing contraction. Muscle & nerve. 2010 Oct;42(4):514-21

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PMID: 20740626

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