Reliability of EMG measurements for trunk muscles during maximal and sub-maximal voluntary isometric contractions in healthy controls and CLBP patients
School of Biomedical and Sports Science
The purpose of this study was to compare the reliability of trunk muscle activity measured by means of surface electromyography (EMG) during maximal and sub-maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVC/sub-MVC) over repeated trials within-day and between-days in healthy controls and patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP). Eleven volunteers (six controls and five CLBP patients) were assessed twice with a 1-week interval. Surface EMG signals were recorded bilaterally from six trunk muscles. Intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) and standard error of measurement as a percentage of the grand mean (%SEM) were calculated. MVC and sub-MVC showed excellent within-day reliability in both healthy controls and CLBP patients (ICC mean 0.91; range 0.75–0.98; %SEM mean 4%; range 1–12%). Sub-MVC for both groups between-days showed excellent reliability (ICC mean 0.88; range 0.78–0.97; %SEM mean 7%; range 3–11%). The between-days MVC for both groups showed trends towards lower levels of reliability (ICC mean 0.70; range 0.19–0.99; %SEM mean 17%; range 4–36%) when compared to sub-MVC. Findings of the study provide evidence that sub-MVC are preferable for amplitude normalisation when assessing EMG signals of trunk muscles between-days.