Electromyographic evaluation of high-intensity elastic resistance exercises for lower extremity muscles during bed rest

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Jul;117(7):1329-1338. doi: 10.1007/s00421-017-3620-2. Epub 2017 Apr 26.


Purpose: Prolonged hospital bed rest after severe injury or disease leads to rapid muscle atrophy and strength loss. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of lower extremity strengthening exercises using elastic resistance that can be performed while lying in a hospital bed.

Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, 22 healthy individuals performed three consecutive repetitions of 14 different lower extremity exercises using elastic resistance, with a perceived intensity corresponding to 8 on the Borg CR-10 scale. Surface electromyography was measured on 13 lower extremity muscles and normalized to the maximal EMG (nEMG). Likewise, exercise satisfaction was evaluated by a questionnaire.

Results: All participants were able to perform all exercises without discomfort and generally rated them satisfactory. High levels of muscle activity were observed for all prime movers. For example, the "femoris muscle setting" exercise showed high levels of muscle activity for rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis (79, 75, and 79% nEMG, respectively), while biceps femoris and semitendinosus were highly active during the prone knee flexion exercise with (72 and 71% nEMG, respectively) and without Kinesiology Tape (73 and 77% nEMG, respectively).

Conclusion: High levels of muscle activity in the lower extremities can be achieved using elastic resistance exercises performed when lying in a hospital bed. Even though performed on healthy individuals, the present study has the potential to provide a reference table of exercises to select from when individualizing and progressing strengthening exercises during the early rehabilitation of bedridden individuals.

Keywords: Bedridden; Elastic tubing; Physical therapy; Rehabilitation; Strength training.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bed Rest / adverse effects*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle Weakness / etiology
  • Muscle Weakness / prevention & control
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / adverse effects
  • Resistance Training / methods*