Objective: To compare scapular muscle activity in healthy overhead and nonoverhead athletes.
Design: One between (group) and 1 within (exercise) repeated measures.
Setting: Controlled laboratory environment.
Participants: Fifteen overhead sport athletes (10 women and 5 men) and 15 nonoverhead sport athletes (10 women and 5 men).
Interventions: Subjects completed 5 individual trials of a Cuff Link, standard push-up, and supine pull-up while surface electromyography (EMG) recorded muscle activity of 4 scapular muscles on the throwing dominant side. Mean EMG data were normalized to a maximum voluntary isometric contraction.
Main Outcome Measures: Normalized mean EMG.
Results: The upper trapezius was significantly more active (F2,56 = 70.118; P < 0.001) during supine pull-up (61.57 ± 29.67%) than during push-up (27.89 ± 16.21%) and Cuff Link (5.50 ± 2.94%). The middle trapezius was significantly more active (F2,56 = 134.192; P < 0.001) during supine pull-up (62.89 ± 24.17%) than during push-up (21.12 ± 13.10%) and Cuff Link (6.59 ± 4.81%). The lower trapezius was significantly more active (F2,56 = 41.326; P < 0.001) during supine pull-up (60.47 ± 34.80%) than during push-up (34.80 ± 30.81%) and Cuff Link (9.67 ± 4.34%). For upper trapezius, middle trapezius, and lower trapezius, the levels of activation during push-up were significantly greater compared with those during Cuff Link. The serratus anterior was significantly more active (F2,56 = 25.652; P < 0.001) during push-up (49.97 ± 18.86%) and Cuff Link (43.81 ± 19.70%) than during supine pull-up (25.52 ± 19.80%). There were no significant influences of group on muscle activation.
Conclusions: Overhead and nonoverhead athletes elicited similar levels of muscle activation. Differences in muscle activation existed within the 3 exercises. Clinicians should consider the muscle of interest when prescribing one of these exercises.