Upper trapezius muscle activity patterns during repetitive manual material handling and work with with a computer mouse

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 1999 Oct;9(5):317-25. doi: 10.1016/s1050-6411(99)00007-3.


Firstly, upper trapezius EMG activity patterns were recorded on the dominant side of 6 industrial production workers and on the side operating a computer mouse of 14 computer-aided design (CAD) operators to study differences in acute muscular response related to the repetitiveness of the exposure. The work tasks were performed with median arm movement frequencies ranging from 5 min(-1) to 13 min(-1) and were characterized by work cycle times ranging from less than 30 sec to several days. However, the static and median EMG levels and EMG gap frequencies were similar for all work tasks indicating that shoulder muscle loads may be unaffected by large variations in arm movement frequencies and work cycle times. An exposure variation analyses (EVA) showed that the EMG activity patterns recorded during production work were more repetitive than during CAD work, whereas CAD work was associated with more static muscle activity patterns, both may be associated with a risk of developing musculoskeletal symptoms. Secondly, upper trapezius EMG activity patterns recorded on the mouse side of the CAD operators were compared with those recorded on the non-mouse side to study differences in muscular responses potentially related to the risk of developing shoulder symptoms which were more prevalent on the mouse side. The number of EMG gaps on the mouse side were significantly lower than the values for the upper trapezius on the non-mouse side indicating that more continuous activity was present in the upper trapezius muscle on the mouse side and EVA analyses showed a more repetitive muscle activity pattern on the mouse side. These findings may be of importance to explain differences in the prevalence of shoulder symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Computers
  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Shoulder / physiology*
  • Work*