Breathing Type and Body Position Effects on Sternocleidomastoid and Suprahyoid EMG Activity

J Oral Rehabil. 2005 Jul;32(7):487-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2842.2005.01453.x.


The objective of this study was to determine the effects of breathing type and body position on sternocleidomastoid and suprahyoid electromyographic (EMG) activity. The sample included 18 subjects with upper costal breathing type (study group) and 15 subjects with costo-diaphragmatic breathing type (control group). All individuals had natural dentition and bilateral molar support. EMG recordings at rest and while swallowing saliva were carried out by placing surface electrodes on the left sternocleidomastoid and left suprahyoid muscles. EMG activity was recorded while standing, seated upright, and in the lateral decubitus position. Upper costal breathing type subjects showed a significantly higher suprahyoid EMG activity at rest than costo-diaphragmatic subjects in all body positions studied (mixed model with unstructured covariance matrix). In the lateral decubitus position, both breathing types showed a significantly higher sternocleidomastoid EMG activity at rest and while swallowing saliva. The suprahyoid muscles demonstrated a significantly higher EMG activity at rest as well as in the lateral decubitus position (mixed model with unstructured covariance matrix). These results are relevant because sternocleidomastoid and suprahyoid muscles play an important role in controlling the head posture and mandible dynamics. The neurophysiological mechanisms involved are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Deglutition
  • Diaphragm / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masticatory Muscles / physiology*
  • Neck Muscles / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Mechanics