Background: Eccentric exercise has demonstrated great utility in the rehabilitation of various shoulder pathologies. Research on the electromyographic (EMG) activity of the shoulder musculature during these activities is limited, however. Furthermore, no studies have observed how forearm positioning during exercise affects EMG output.
Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose was to examine the degree of specific muscle recruitment among commonly used eccentric exercises in rehabilitation of the upper extremity and shoulder. Secondarily, the authors hypothesized that different hand/forearm positions would alter EMG activity within the targeted musculature during a given exercise.
Study Design: Prospective cross-sectional observation of EMG analysis.
Methods: This study analyzed surface EMG data obtained from 10 healthy individuals during five eccentric exercises of the dominant extremity, performed in a randomized order: side-lying eccentric horizontal abduction (SL ER), half-kneeling weighted ball decelerations (BALL DC), seated eccentric external rotation in scaption (STD ER), standing eccentric external rotation at 0deg (STND ER), supine eccentric external rotation at 90deg (SUP ER). Each exercise was performed with two to three forearm position variants commonly used in clinical environments: neutral, pronation, and/or supination. EMG data were collected from the upper trapezius, infraspinatus, teres minor, latissimus dorsi, and anterior/middle/posterior deltoid. Data were analyzed for each individual exercise and within each muscle using a mixed-model ANOVA repeated across forearm position. Significant interactions were followed by a Bonferroni post-hoc test for pairwise comparisons. Effect size was calculated for all significant pairwise comparisons using a Cohen's d statistic.
Results: Significant differences in EMG activity for the selected musculature exist between forearm positions for four of the five exercises and Cohen's d effect sizes 0.178 - 1.159.
Conclusion: Specific eccentric shoulder exercises activate muscles of the shoulder complex differently based on forearm positioning.
Level of Evidence: Level 2.