Is there a difference in the pattern of muscle activity when performing neck exercises with a guild board versus a pulley?

J Rehabil Med. 2013 Sep;45(9):900-5. doi: 10.2340/16501977-1196.


Objective: Guild boards and pulleys are apparatus commonly used to train cervical muscle function for their purported benefit in facilitating activity of the deeper muscle layers, although this effect has not been substantiated. The objective of this study was to compare the activity of the different layers of cervical muscles when performing exercise with these 2 types of apparatus.

Subjects: A total of 19 healthy persons (mean age 28 years, (standard deviation 7 years).

Design: Ultrasound measurements of muscle deformation and deformation rate were recorded from the dorsal and ventral neck muscle layers during extension and flexion exercises. Pulley exercises were performed in the upright sitting position against a standardized resistance (men 2 kg, women 1 kg) and guild board exercises at an angle of 45º.

Results: The dorsal muscles generally showed greater levels of deformation and deformation rate during exercise with the guild board compared with the pulley system (p < 0.05), but with no significant differences in relative activity between the deep and superficial muscle layers (condition × muscle interaction (p > 0.05)). No differences were observed for the ventral muscles between exercise methods (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: While both exercise methods appear to train cervical muscle function, neither appear to be more selective in facilitating deep cervical muscle activity, probably as they involve very similar cervical kinematics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain / physiopathology
  • Chronic Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neck Muscles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neck Muscles / physiology*
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Neck Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult