Influence of different upper cervical positions on electromyography activity of the masticatory muscles

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2012 May;35(4):308-18. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2012.04.020.


Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the activity of the masseter and anterior temporalis muscles in relation to different positions of the upper cervical spine during maximal voluntary isometric clenching by surface electromyography (EMG).

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study with a repeated-measures design performed using 25 asymptomatic subjects (13 female and 12 male; mean age, 31 years; SD, 8.51). The EMG activity of the masseter and anterior temporalis muscles was recorded bilaterally during maximal clenching at neutral position and during extension, flexion, ipsilateral lateral flexion, contralateral lateral flexion, and ipsilateral and contralateral rotations in maximal flexion. In addition, the upper cervical range of motion and mandibular excursions were assessed. The EMG activity data were analyzed using a 3-way analysis of variance in which the factors considered were upper cervical position, sex (male and female), and side (right and left), and the hypothesis of importance was the interaction side x position.

Results: The 3-way analysis of variance detected statistically significant differences between the several upper cervical positions (F = 13.724; P < .001) but found no significant differences for sex (F = 0.202; P = .658) or side (F = 0.86; P = .53) regarding EMG activity of the masseter muscle. Significant differences were likewise observed for interaction side x position for the masseter muscle (F = 12.726; P < .001). The analysis of the EMG activity of anterior temporalis muscle did not produce statistically significant differences (P > .05).

Conclusion: This preliminary study suggests that the upper cervical movements influence the surface EMG activity of the masseter muscle. These findings support a model in which there are interaction between the craniocervical and the craniomandibular system.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cervical Vertebrae*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masseter Muscle / physiology*
  • Posture*
  • Temporal Muscle / physiology*