European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 8, pp 1789–1798 | Cite as

Vibration as an adjunct to exercise: its impact on shoulder muscle activation

  • Michael J. Grant
  • David H. Hawkes
  • Jessica McMahon
  • Ian Horsley
  • Omid A. KhaiyatEmail author
Original Article



There is an interest within elite sport in understanding the impact of a vibrating platform as an adjunct to exercise in the training and rehabilitation of throwing athletes. However, there has been no comprehensive evaluation of its impact on the rotator cuff muscles or its effect on the timing of shoulder muscle recruitment more globally.


Twenty healthy participants were recruited with EMG recorded from 15 shoulder girdle muscles. Isometric shoulder flexion at 25% maximal voluntary contraction was performed in three testing scenarios [no vibration; whole body vibration (WBV); and arm vibration (AV)]. A press up and triceps dips with and without vibration were also performed. Muscular recruitment was assessed pre- and post-vibration exposure as participants initiated forward flexion.


Activation of the anterior deltoid (p = 0.002), serratus anterior (p = 0.004), and rotator cuff muscles (p = 0.004–0.022) occurred significantly earlier following exposure to vibration. Significantly greater activation was seen in the anterior, middle and posterior deltoid, upper, middle and lower trapezius, serratus anterior, teres major, latissimus dorsi, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus when the isometric contraction was performed with either WBV and/or AV (p =  < 0.001–0.040). Similarly, increased activation was also demonstrated during the press up and triceps dips when performed with vibration.


The use of vibration as an adjunct to exercise provokes a near global increase in shoulder muscle activation level. Furthermore, exposure to vibration alters muscular recruitment improving readiness for movement. This has potential implications within elite sport for both training and game preparation; however, further longitudinal work is required.


EMG Muscle activity Shoulder Vibration Muscle recruitment 



Anterior deltoid


Analysis of variance


Arm vibration


Biceps brachii




Latissimus dorsi lower part


Latissimus dorsi upper part


Lower trapezius


Middle deltoid


Middle trapezius


Maximum voluntary contraction


No vibration


Posterior deltoid


Pectoralis major


Serratus anterior






Teres major


Upper trapezius


Whole body vibration


Author contributions

OK, DH, and IH conceived and designed research. DH, JM, and MG conducted experiments and collected the data. JM and DH analysed the data. MG, DH, and OK wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trauma and Orthopaedic SurgeryNorth West (Mersey) DeaneryLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.School of Health SciencesLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK
  3. 3.England Institute for SportManchesterUK

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