Advances in time-frequency analysis can provide new insights into the important, yet complex relationship between muscle activation (ie, electromyography [EMG]) and motion during dynamic tasks. We use wavelet coherence to compare a fundamental cyclical movement (lumbar spine flexion and extension) to the surface EMG linear envelope of 2 trunk muscles (lumbar erector spinae and internal oblique). Both muscles cohere to the spine kinematics at the main cyclic frequency, but lumbar erector spinae exhibits significantly greater coherence than internal oblique to kinematics at 0.25, 0.5, and 1.0 Hz. Coherence phase plots of the 2 muscles exhibit different characteristics. The lumbar erector spinae precedes trunk extension at 0.25 Hz, whereas internal oblique is in phase with spine kinematics. These differences may be due to their proposed contrasting functions as a primary spine mover (lumbar erector spinae) versus a spine stabilizer (internal oblique). We believe that this method will be useful in evaluating how a variety of factors (eg, pain, dysfunction, pathology, fatigue) affect the relationship between muscles' motor inputs (ie, activation measured using EMG) and outputs (ie, the resulting joint motion patterns).
Keywords: coherence; continuous wavelet transform; electromyography; kinematics; spine.