Location of innervation zones of sternocleidomastoid and scalene muscles--a basis for clinical and research electromyography applications

Clin Neurophysiol. 2002 Jan;113(1):57-63. doi: 10.1016/s1388-2457(01)00708-8.


Objectives: Advances in surface electromyography (sEMG) techniques provide a clear indication that refinement of electrode location relative to innervation zones (IZ) is required in order to optimise the accuracy, relevance and repeatability of the sEMG signals. The aim of this study was to identify the IZ for the sternocleidomastoid and anterior scalene muscles to provide guidelines for electrode positioning for future clinical and research applications.

Methods: Eleven volunteer subjects participated in this study. Myoelectric signals were detected from the sternal and clavicular heads of the sternocleidomastoid and the anterior scalene muscles bilaterally using a linear array of 8 electrodes during isometric cervical flexion contractions. The signals were reviewed and the IZ(s) were identified, marked on the subjects' skin and measurements were obtained relative to selected anatomical landmarks.

Results: The position of the IZ lay consistently around the mid-point or in the superior portion of the muscles studied.

Conclusions: Results suggest that electrodes should be positioned over the lower portion of the muscle and not the mid-point, which has been commonly used in previous studies. Recommendations for sensor placement on these muscles should assist investigators and clinicians to ensure improved validity in future sEMG applications.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electrodes
  • Electromyography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Male
  • Neck Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Neck Muscles / innervation*
  • Neck Muscles / physiology
  • Reference Standards