European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 115, Issue 5, pp 1095–1106 | Cite as

On the nature of the electromyographic signals recorded during vibration exercise

  • Lin Xu
  • Chiara Rabotti
  • Massimo Mischi
Original Article



Surface electromyography (EMG) has been widely used to measure neuromuscular activity during vibration exercise (VE) to investigate the underlying mechanisms elicited by VE. However, the EMG spectrum recorded during VE shows sharp peaks at the vibration frequency whose interpretation remains controversial. Some authors considered those peaks as a result of motion artifacts, while others interpreted them as due to vibration-induced neuromuscular activity. The aim of the present study is to clarify the nature of those sharp peaks observed during VE.


Three independent EMG measurements were performed during VE: in vitro (IVT), in vivo at rest (\({\hbox {IVV}_\mathrm{R}}\)), and in vivo during voluntary contraction (\({\hbox {IVV}_\mathrm{C}}\)). The amplitudes of the EMG vibration frequency components (\({\hbox {A}_\mathrm{VF}}\)) were extracted for all measurements. The conduction velocity (CV) of the vibration frequency components and the full EMG spectrum were also estimated during voluntary contraction.


Our spectrum analysis revealed small \({\hbox {A}_\mathrm{VF}}\) for IVT and \({\hbox {IVV}_\mathrm{R}}\), accounting for only 3.3 and 7.6 % of that obtained from \({\hbox {IVV}_\mathrm{C}}\). Moreover, the CV estimation indicated the EMG vibration components to propagate along the muscle fiber with CV \(\approx\) 6.5 m/s, comparable to the CV estimated using the full EMG spectrum (5.7 m/s).


We may therefore conclude that the sharp spectral peaks observed during VE are mainly due to vibration-induced muscle activity rather than motion artifacts.


Electromyography Vibration exercise Motion artifacts Tonic vibration reflex Conduction velocity 



Amplitude of the vibration frequency components


Conduction velocity


CV of the acceleration signals


CV of the full EMG spectrum


CV of the vibration frequency components




In vitro


In vivo during voluntary contraction


In vivo at rest


Mean frequency


Maximum voluntary contraction


Tonic vibration reflex


Vibration exercise


Whole body vibration



This work was supported with a valorization grant from the Dutch Technology Foundation STW and a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council. The experiments performed in the present study comply with the current laws of the Netherlands.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Electrical EngineeringEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands

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