Atlas of the muscle motor points for the lower limb: implications for electrical stimulation procedures and electrode positioning

  • Alberto Botter
  • Gianmosè Oprandi
  • Fabio Lanfranco
  • Stefano Allasia
  • Nicola A. Maffiuletti
  • Marco Alessandro MinettoEmail author
Original Article


The aim of the study was to investigate the uniformity of the muscle motor point location for lower limb muscles in healthy subjects. Fifty-three subjects of both genders (age range: 18–50 years) were recruited. The muscle motor points were identified for the following ten muscles of the lower limb (dominant side): vastus medialis, rectus femoris, and vastus lateralis of the quadriceps femoris, biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus of the hamstring muscles, tibialis anterior, peroneus longus, lateral and medial gastrocnemius. The muscle motor point was identified by scanning the skin surface with a stimulation pen electrode and corresponded to the location of the skin area above the muscle in which an electrical pulse evoked a muscle twitch with the least injected current. For each investigated muscle, 0.15 ms square pulses were delivered through the pen electrode at low current amplitude (<10 mA) and frequency (2 Hz). 16 motor points were identified in the 10 investigated muscles of almost all subjects: 3 motor points for the vastus lateralis, 2 motor points for rectus femoris, vastus medialis, biceps femoris, and tibialis anterior, 1 motor point for the remaining muscles. An important inter-individual variability was observed for the position of the following 4 out of 16 motor points: vastus lateralis (proximal), biceps femoris (short head), semimembranosus, and medial gastrocnemius. Possible implications for electrical stimulation procedures and electrode positioning different from those commonly applied for thigh and leg muscles are discussed.


Neuromuscular electrical stimulation Motor entry point Motor branch Lower limb 



Musculoskeletal Images are from the University of Washington “Musculoskeletal Atlas: A Musculoskeletal Atlas of the Human Body” by Carol Teitz, M.D. and Dan Graney, Ph.D. Copyright 2003–2004 University of Washington. All rights reserved including all photographs and images. No re-use, re-distribution or commercial use without prior written permission of the authors and the University of Washington. The authors are grateful to Prof. R. Merletti (LISiN, Politecnico di Torino, Italy) for his careful review of the final version of the manuscript and to Dr. D. Antista (School of Motor Sciences, Turin, Italy) for his valuable assistance in subject recruitment and evaluation. This study was supported by Regional Health Administration Project “Ricerca Sanitaria Finalizzata 2009” and by bank foundations “Compagnia di San Paolo” (Project “Neuromuscular Investigation and Conditioning in Endocrine Myopathy”), “Fondazione Cariplo” (Project “Steroid myopathy: Molecular, Histopathological, and Electrophysiological Characterization”) and “Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Saluzzo”.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alberto Botter
    • 1
  • Gianmosè Oprandi
    • 1
  • Fabio Lanfranco
    • 2
  • Stefano Allasia
    • 2
  • Nicola A. Maffiuletti
    • 3
  • Marco Alessandro Minetto
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory for Engineering of the Neuromuscular System (LISiN), Department of ElectronicsPolitecnico di TorinoTurinItaly
  2. 2.Division of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Molinette HospitalUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  3. 3.Neuromuscular Research LaboratorySchulthess ClinicZurichSwitzerland

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