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. 2011 Jun;21(3):403-10.
doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2010.11.006. Epub 2010 Dec 8.

Selective Recruitment of the Lower Fibers of the Trapezius Muscle

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Selective Recruitment of the Lower Fibers of the Trapezius Muscle

Melissa Arlotta et al. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. .

Abstract

Introduction: We aimed to determine the effectiveness of five isometric exercises at maximally activating the lower trapezius muscle in healthy subjects.

Methods: Surface electromyography data were recorded from the upper, middle, and lower fibers of the trapezius muscle bilaterally while 18 healthy subjects performed five different exercises: Latissimus Pull-down, Prone Row, Prone V-Raise, Posterior Fly and Modified Prone Cobra. The peak activation was determined from the rectified and smoothed data to determine which exercise generated the highest amount of lower trapezius activity, and to determine which exercise best resulted in activation of the lower fibers of trapezius while minimizing activation of the upper and middle fibers of trapezius.

Results: Males and females demonstrated different patterns of lower trapezius recruitment and therefore the data were analyzed separately for each sex. For the males, the Prone Row exercise (2.84 ± 1.67 mV), the Posterior Fly (2.23 ± 1.00 mV) and the Modified Prone Cobra (2.26 ± 1.19 mV) exercises generated the highest EMG activity in the lower trapezius muscle. For the females, the Modified Prone Cobra (2.40 ± 1.32 mV) and the Prone Row (2.37 ± 1.14 mV) exercises generated higher activation than the Latissimus Pull Down (1.04 ± 0.56 mV), the Posterior Fly (1.62 ± 1.044 mV) and the Prone V-Raise (1.32 ± 1.07 mV). In both sexes, the Modified Prone Cobra, the Prone Row and the Latissimus Pull Down outperformed the other exercises in terms of maximizing lower trapezius activation while minimizing activation of the upper and middle fibers of trapezius. The Modified Prone Cobra showed lower relative activation of the upper trapezius muscle than did the Prone Row exercise.

Conclusion: The Modified Prone Cobra and Prone Row exercises are the most effective exercises for targeted strengthening of the lower trapezius muscle in both sexes. The Modified Prone Cobra is somewhat better than the Prone Row due to the low activation of the upper trapezius muscle during this exercise. The Modified Prone Cobra exercise should therefore be considered as a manual muscle test position and as a strengthening exercise for the lower trapezius muscle fibers.

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