Surface Electromyography: What Limits Its Use in Exercise and Sport Physiology?

Felici F, Del Vecchio A (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article, Review article

Publication year: 2020


Book Volume: 11

Article Number: 578504

DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2020.578504


The aim of the present paper is to examine to what extent the application of surface electromyography (sEMG) in the field of exercise and, more in general, of human movement, is adopted by professionals on a regular basis. For this purpose, a brief history of the recent developments of modern sEMG techniques will be assessed and evaluated for a potential use in exercise physiology and clinical biomechanics. The idea is to understand what are the limitations that impede the translation of sEMG to applied fields such as exercise physiology. A cost/benefits evaluation will be drawn in order to understand possible causes that prevents sEMG from being routinely adopted. Among the possible causative factors, educational, economic and technical issues will be considered. Possible corrective interventions will be proposed. We will also give an overview of the parameters that can be extracted from the decomposition of the sHDEMG signals and how this can be related by professionals for assessing the health and disease of the neuromuscular system. We discuss how the decomposition of surface EMG signals might be adopted as a new non-invasive tool for assessing the status of the neuromuscular system. Recent evidences show that is possible to monitor the changes in neuromuscular function after training of longitudinally tracked populations of motoneurons, predict the maximal rate of force development by an individual via motoneuron interfacing, and identify possible causal relations between aging and the decrease in motor performance. These technologies will guide our understanding of motor control and provide a new window for the investigation of the underlying physiological processes determining force control, which is essential for the sport and exercise physiologist. We will also illustrate the challenges related to extraction of neuromuscular parameters from global EMG analysis (i.e., root-mean-square, and other global EMG metrics) and when the decomposition is needed. We posit that the main limitation in the application of sEMG techniques to the applied field is associated to problems in education and teaching, and that most of the novel technologies are not open source.

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Felici, F., & Del Vecchio, A. (2020). Surface Electromyography: What Limits Its Use in Exercise and Sport Physiology? Frontiers in Neurology, 11.


Felici, Francesco, and Alessandro Del Vecchio. "Surface Electromyography: What Limits Its Use in Exercise and Sport Physiology?" Frontiers in Neurology 11 (2020).

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