Upper trapezius muscle mechanomyographic and electromyographic activity in humans during low force fatiguing and non-fatiguing contractions
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The purposes of this study were firstly to compare and investigate localised fatigue in the upper trapezius muscle in various arm positions as assessed by mechanomyographic (MMG) and surface electromyographic (EMG) signals and secondly to study the effects of different normalisation methods on MMG and EMG signals during non-fatiguing and fatiguing low level isometric contractions. The MMG, EMG and rate of perceived exertion were recorded from 11 subjects in five arm positions (0° abduction and 0° flexion, 45° and 90° flexion, 45° and 90° abduction) with different bilateral arm loads during 3 s for non-fatiguing (0–0.5–1 kg hand-load) and 3 min for fatiguing contractions (1 kg hand-load). The root mean square (RMS), average rectified value (ARV), mean power frequency (MNF), and median power frequency (MDF) of the MMG and EMG signals were computed and normalised with respect to the initial values obtained in the current arm position or in the reference position (0° abduction and 0° flexion) corresponding to the normal postural activity of the trapezius muscle. For fatiguing contractions, differences in magnitude of the increase in the RMS or ARV and decrease in the MNF or MDF were observed for EMG and MMG. The MMG amplitude and spectral changes followed the subjective sensation of fatigue and were not correlated to their EMG counterparts, suggesting that they may reflect different phenomena. For non-fatiguing contractions, normalisation to the current arm position entailed the loss of dynamic amplitude changes suggesting that a single reference contraction in the middle part of the range of movement is enough for proper normalisation of EMG and MMG signals. For fatiguing contractions, normalisation of the EMG and MMG to some extent can lead to a misleading interpretation. Assessment of the upper trapezius muscle by means of MMG may be valuable in ergonomics.
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