Shoulder and elbow muscle activity in goal-directed arm movements


 This research examined the electromyographic (EMG) activity of shoulder and elbow muscles during reaching movements of the upper limb. Subjects performed goal-directed arm movements in the horizontal plane. Movements which varied in amplitude, speed, and direction were performed in different sections of the workspace. EMG activity was recorded from the pectoralis major, posterior deltoid, biceps brachii short head, brachioradialis, triceps brachii long head, and triceps brachii lateral head; motion recordings were obtained with an optoelectric system. The analysis focused on the magnitude and timing of opposing muscle groups at the shoulder and elbow joints. For hand movements within any given direction of the workspace direction, kinematic manipulations changed agonist and antagonist EMG magnitude and intermuscle timing in a manner consistent with previous single-joint findings. To produce reaching movements in different directions and areas of the workspace, shoulder and elbow agonist EMG magnitude increased for those hand motions which required higher angular velocities, while the timing between opposing muscle groups at each joint was invariant.

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Received: 11 January 1996 / Accepted: 24 February 1997

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Gabriel, D. Shoulder and elbow muscle activity in goal-directed arm movements. Exp Brain Res 116, 359–366 (1997).

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  • Key words Human arm movement
  • Reaching
  • Electromyography
  • Intermuscle latency
  • Muscle activity