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The Effects of a 28-Hz Vibration on Arm Muscle Activity during Isometric Exercise


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2009 - Volume 41 - Issue 3 - p 645-653
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31818a8a69
Applied Sciences

Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate activation and coactivation of biceps and triceps muscles during isometric exercise performed with and without superimposing a vibration stimulation.

Methods: Twelve healthy volunteers (age = 22.7 ± 2.6 yr) participated in this study. The subjects performed five trials of isometric elbow flexion and five trials of elbow extension with increasing levels of force in two conditions: vibration (V) and normal loading (C). V stimulation was characterized by a frequency of 28 Hz. Surface EMG activity of biceps and triceps muscles was simultaneously measured by bipolar surface electromyography and assessed by the estimation of the root mean square (RMS) of the electrical recordings over a fixed 5-s interval. Frequency analysis was adopted to estimate the RMS related to muscle activation and to exclude the harmonics generated by movement artifacts due to V.

Results: The analysis of the recordings revealed a significant EMGRMS increase when V was applied. On average, the EMGRMS of biceps and triceps during elbow flexion was, respectively, 26.1% (P < 0.05) and 18.2% (P = 0.15) higher than C. During elbow extension, the EMGRMS of biceps and triceps was 77.2% and 45.2% (P < 0.05) higher than C, respectively. The coactivation was assessed as the ratio between the activation of antagonist and agonist muscles during arm flexion and extension tasks. The results revealed an increase of coactivation during V exercise, especially for lighter loads.

Conclusion: This study shows that V exercise at 28 Hz produces an increase of the activation and the coactivation of biceps and triceps. This exercise modality seems therefore suitable for various applications.

1Department of Electrical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, THE NETHERLANDS; 2Olympic Medical Institute, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow; and 3College of Life Sciences and Medicine, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Massimo Mischi, Ph.D., Department of Electrical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, Room PT 3.02, PO Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands; E-mail:

Submitted for publication May 2008.

Accepted for publication August 2008.

©2009The American College of Sports Medicine