Article Text

The practical use of surface electromyography during running: does the evidence support the hype? A narrative review
  1. R Subbu1,
  2. R Weiler1,
  3. G Whyte2
  1. 1University College London, Institute Sport Exercise and Health, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr R Subbu; rajsubbu1{at}


Background/aims Surface electromyography (sEMG) is a commonly used technique to investigate muscle activation and fatigue, which is non-invasive and can allow for continuous measurement. Systematic research on the use of sEMG in the sporting environment has been on-going for many years and predominantly based on cycling and rowing activities. To date there have been no reviews assessing the validity and reliability in sEMG exclusively in running activities specifically during on-field testing. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the use of sEMG in the practical context and whether this be translated to on-field testing.

Methods Electronic literature searches were performed using the Cochrane Library, PUBMED, CINAHL and PeDro without restrictions on the study date to identify the relevant current English language literature.

Results 10 studies were relevant after title and content review. All the studies identified were all level three evidence based. The general trends of the sEMG activity appear to correlate with running velocity and muscle fatigue seems almost always the consequence of prolonged, dynamic activity. However, these changes are not consistently measured or statistically significant throughout the studies raising the question of the accuracy and reliability when analysing sEMG measurements and making assumptions about the cause of fatigue.

Conclusions An agreed consensus when measuring and analysing sEMG data during running activities particularly in field testing with the most appropriate study design and reliable methodology is yet to be determined and further studies are required.

  • Adaptations of skeletal muscle to exercise and altered neuromuscular activity
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Implementation
  • Neuromuscular
  • Review

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