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Electromyographic analysis of selected shoulder muscles during a rugby football tackle

Herrington, LC and Horsley, I 2009, 'Electromyographic analysis of selected shoulder muscles during a rugby football tackle' , Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy and Technology, 1 , pp. 10-17.

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    Background: Epidemiological studies have shown that the incidence of shoulder injuries is increasing in rugby and the majority are related to the contact/tackle phase of play. However, no data currently exists that describes preparatory muscle activity during tackle. This information could aid in guiding training and rehabilitation, if available. The purpose of the study was to assess the sequence of onset of EMG activity of selected scapulohumeral muscles during rugby tackle. 15 healthy professional rugby players participated in the study. Surface EMG activity was assessed for timing of onset relative to time of impact during a modified tackle activity in pectorialis major, biceps brachii, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior and infraspinatus muscles. Results: Onset of activity occurred in all muscles prior to impact. Factorial ANOVA showed significant differences between muscles in activation timing (p = 0.0001), paired t-tests revealed that serratus anterior was activated prior to all other muscles tested (p < 0.04, for all comparisons), with comparison between all other muscles showing no significant differences (p > 0.05), except pectorialis major on all comparisons showed significantly later activation timing than all other muscles (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Muscle activation timing may if not properly balanced around the shoulder girdle expose the glenohumeral joint to excessive load and stress. This paper demonstrates a simple method which sets out some preliminary normative data in healthy players. Further studies relating these data to injured players are required.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at: Received: 14 October 2008 Accepted: 21 May 2009 Published: 21 May 2009 © 2009 Herrington and Horsley; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Sports medicine, shoulder, rugby
    Themes: Subjects / Themes > R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
    Health and Wellbeing
    Schools: Colleges and Schools > College of Health & Social Care > School of Health Sciences > Centre for Health Sciences Research
    Colleges and Schools > College of Health & Social Care
    Colleges and Schools > College of Health & Social Care > School of Health Sciences
    Journal or Publication Title: Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy and Technology
    Publisher: Biomed Central
    Refereed: Yes
    ISSN: 1758-2555
    Related URLs:
    Depositing User: LC Herrington
    Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2009 17:32
    Last Modified: 20 Aug 2013 16:59

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