Effects of arm support on shoulder and arm muscle activity during sedentary work

Ergonomics. 1997 Aug;40(8):834-48. doi: 10.1080/001401397187829.


The aim of this study was to evaluate different arm supports by comparing the activity of shoulder and arm muscles during various work tasks, with and without the lower arm supported. Twelve female subjects, aged between 23 and 37 years, were asked to perform three types of tasks: typing, simulated assembly work (in two different positions), and pipetting. The supports used were: fixed arm support (FIX), horizontal movable arm support (HOR), and spring-loaded arm support (SLA). During the experiments, the electromyograms (EMG) of four muscles were simultaneously recorded: m. deltoideus anterior and lateralis, m. trapezius pars descendens and m. extensor carpi radialis brevis. Normalization was made against maximum isometric contraction. The mean values of the normalized EMG levels showed a reduced EMG level of the shoulder muscles when using arm supports in all the tasks, and for all muscles but the wrist extensor, compared to the EMG levels without arm supports. The horizontal movable support was more effective in reducing the EMG levels of the shoulder muscles than other arm supports, in tasks at table height. Thus, it is possible to reduce muscle activity of the shoulder region by using arm supports. Further research is needed to make biomechanical calculations to compare the EMG level of these muscles using suspension and the effects of inclination of work task.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / innervation
  • Electromyography*
  • Equipment Design
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation*
  • Posture
  • Shoulder / innervation