Electromyographic analysis of selected shoulder muscles during a series of exercises commonly used in patients with symptomatic degenerative rotator cuff tears

Review written by Dr Angela Cadogan info

Key Points

  1. Bench and wall slide (closed chain) exercises resulted in low levels of infraspinatus activation and high levels of anterior deltoid and scapula muscle activation.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Exercise rehabilitation is now considered the primary intervention for people with degenerative rotator cuff tears (1,2). Exercises to strengthen the anterior deltoid and scapula muscles are often used in rehabilitation for people with symptomatic rotator cuff tears, to help restore function by improving the ability to elevate the arm while minimizing load on the rotator cuff. However, little information is available about the relative activation of the anterior deltoid, scapula and rotator cuff muscle groups during commonly used exercises, and whether muscle activation levels are affected by age.

This study aimed to evaluate the electromyographic (EMG) activity in the anterior deltoid, scapula and rotator cuff muscles during two rehabilitation programmes that are often used in rehabilitation for degenerative rotator cuff tears, and to assess any age-related differences in muscle activity.

Exercise rehabilitation is considered the primary intervention for people with degenerative rotator cuff tears.
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Exercises that help restore the ability to elevate the arm while minimizing load on the rotator cuff are very useful for patients with symptomatic rotator cuff tears.

METHODS

55 healthy participants (30 men, 25 women) were recruited, aged between 18-60 years (mean 39 years). Surface EMG activity was measured during 13 exercises from two commonly used rehabilitation programmes (see the video for these exercises):

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