Influence of forward head posture on muscle activation pattern of the trapezius pars descendens muscle in young adults

Sci Rep. 2022 Nov 14;12(1):19484. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-24095-8.


Forward head posture (FHP) is a serious problem causing head and neck disability, but the characteristics of muscle activity during long-term postural maintenance are unclear. This study aimed to investigate a comparison of electromyography (EMG) activation properties and subjective fatigue between young adults with and without habitual FHP. In this study, we examined the changes in the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of muscle activity using high-density surface EMG (HD-SEMG) in addition to mean frequency, a conventional measure of muscle fatigue. Nineteen male participants were included in the study (FHP group (n = 9; age = 22.3 ± 1.5 years) and normal group (n = 10; age = 22.5 ± 1.4 years)). Participants held three head positions (e.g., forward, backward, and neutral positions) for a total of 30 min each, and the EMG activity of the trapezius pars descendens muscle during posture maintenance was measured by HD-SEMG. The root mean square (RMS), the modified entropy, and the correlation coefficient were calculated. Additionally, the visual analogue scale (VAS) was evaluated to assess subjective fatigue. The RMS, VAS, modified entropy, and correlation coefficients were significantly higher in the FHP group than in the normal group (p < 0.001). With increasing postural maintenance time, the modified entropy and correlation coefficient values significantly decreased, and the mean frequency and VAS values significantly increased (p < 0.001). Furthermore, the forward position had significantly higher RMS, correlation coefficient, modified entropy, and VAS values than in the neutral position (p < 0.001). The HD-SEMG potential distribution patterns in the FHP group showed less heterogeneity and greater muscle activity in the entire muscle and subjective fatigue than those in the normal group. Excess muscle activity even in the neutral/comfortable position in the FHP group could potentially be a mechanism of neuromuscular conditions in this population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Head / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Posture / physiology
  • Superficial Back Muscles* / physiology
  • Young Adult