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Electromyographic Activities of the Rotator Cuff Muscles During Walking, Eating, and Washing

Yoon, Seung-Hyun MD, PhD; Lee, Doo-Hyung MD, PhD; Jung, Myung-Chul PhD; Park, Young Uk MD, PhD; Lim, Seong-Yeon MD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: November 2016 - Volume 95 - Issue 11 - p e169–e176
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000587
Original Research Articles

Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the activity of rotator cuff (RC) muscles during activities of daily living.

Design Motion analysis was conducted with 14 volunteers. Activation of RC (subscapularis, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus) was assessed using electromyography (EMG). Walking was performed with or without a shoulder immobilizer. Eating was conducted with or without the support of the elbow with the contralateral hand. Washing the hair was simulated while standing or leaning forward; washing the body was simulated while standing or holding the elbow; and washing the face was simulated using both hands while leaning forward.

Results During walking, RC’s peak EMG activities remained below 7% maximum voluntary isometric contraction at all times, regardless of the use of immobilizers. Eating caused mild EMG activities (14%–32%), whereas eating with elbow support resulted in significantly lower EMG activities in the supraspinatus and infraspinatus. Washing the hair standing moderately activated RC (23%–57%), whereas leaning forward decreased it to 6% to 36%. Washing the body while holding the elbow decreased infraspinatus activation to 4% from 10% when standing. Washing the face with both hands and leaning forward resulted in high-peak EMG activities in the upper subscapularis (37%).

Conclusions There was no difference in RC activity level between walking with or without immobilizers. From the point of muscle contraction, an immobilizer is not mandatory. Holding the elbow with the contralateral hand while eating or washing can help decrease the load in the supraspinatus and infraspinatus.

Supplemental digital content is available in the text.

From the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, South Korea (S-HY); Ajou Sports Medicine Center, Ajou University Hospital, Suwon, South Korea (S-HY, D-HL); Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, South Korea (D-HL, YUP, S-YL); and Department of Industrial Engineering, Ajou University, Suwon, South Korea (M-CJ).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Doo-Hyung Lee, MD, PhD, Department of Orthopedics, Ajou University School of Medicine, San 5, Woncheon-dong, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon, 443-721, Korea.

Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

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