Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 419-427

First online:

Quantification of the Safe Maximal Lift in Functional Capacity Evaluations: Comparison of Muscle Recruitment Using SEMG and Therapist Observation

  • Carole JamesAffiliated withSchool of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle Email author 
  • , Lynette MackenzieAffiliated withFaculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney
  • , Mike CapraAffiliated withSchool of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, University of Queensland

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Introduction This study aimed to identify any correlation between muscle activity using surface electromyography (SEMG) and therapist determined safe maximal lift (SML) during the bench to shoulder lift of the WorkHab FCE. This would support construct (convergent) validity of SML determination in the WorkHab FCE. Method An experimental laboratory based study design was used. Twenty healthy volunteers performed the bench to shoulder lift of the WorkHab FCE whilst SEMG of upper trapezius, mid deltoid, thoracic, brachioradialis and bicep muscles were recorded. A summary of the data is presented using descriptive statistics and differences between groups were tested using generalised linear mixed models. Results Results showed a significant difference in activity and duration of muscle activation with increasing weight lifted [p = 0.000 and p = 0.024 (brachioradialis)]. There was a significant difference between the up lift (bench to shoulder) and the down lift (shoulder to bench) for all muscles (p = 0.000) except the brachioradialis (p = 0.819). No significant change was found in muscle activity before or after the SML. Conclusion Convergent validity of the bench to shoulder lift of the WorkHab FCE was not established as no relationship between the muscle recruitment using SEMG and SML, as determined by therapist observation was identified during this lift.


Electromyography Lifting Work capacity evaluation WorkHab FCE