A non-MVC EMG normalization technique for the trunk musculature: Part 1. Method development

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2001 Feb;11(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/s1050-6411(00)00039-0.


Normalization of muscle activity has been commonly used to determine the amount of force exerted by a muscle. The most widely used reference point for normalization is the maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). However, MVCs are often subjective, and potentially limited by sensation of pain in injured individuals. The objective of the current study was to develop a normalization technique that predicts an electromyographic (EMG) reference point from sub-maximal exertions. Regression equations predicting maximum exerted trunk moments were developed from anthropometric measurements of 120 subjects. In addition, 20 subjects performed sub-maximal and maximal exertions to determine the necessary characteristic exertions needed for normalization purposes. For most of the trunk muscles, a highly linear relationship was found between EMG muscle activity and trunk moment exerted. This analysis determined that an EMG-moment reference point can be obtained via a set of sub-maximal exertions in combination with a predicted maximal exertion (expected maximum contraction or EMC) based upon anthropometric measurements. This normalization technique overcomes the limitations of the subjective nature for the MVC method providing a viable assessment method of individuals with a low back injury or those unwilling to exert an MVC as well as could be extended to other joints/muscles.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromyography*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbosacral Region* / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*