Fine wire electromyography analysis of muscles of the shoulder during swimming

G. W. Nuber, F. W. Jobe, J. Perry, D. R. Moynes, D. Antonelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Fine wire EMG of the shoulder was performed on 11 swimmers; 5 performed during dry land studies and 7 during aquatic studies. One individual underwent both studies. A cinematographic analysis was synchronized with the EMG data to determine what muscles were firing at each phase of the swim stroke. Eight muscles were studied: biceps, subscapularis, latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, serratus anterior, and deltoid. Three stokes were analyzed: freestyle, breaststroke, and butterfly. The freestyle and butterfly are frequently associated with impingement type syndromes in swimmers. It was determined that the supraspinatus, infraspi natus, middle deltoid, and serratus anterior were pre dominately recovery phase muscles. The latissimus dorsi and pectoralis major were predominately pull- through phase muscles. The biceps had mixed incon sistent activity during both phases. From dry land quan tifications of the EMG signal it was determined that the serratus anterior functions near maximal muscle test during each stroke, and theoretically may fatigue with repetition. It is hoped that a training program aimed to strengthen the scapular rotators may help alleviate impingement syndrome in swimmers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-11
Number of pages5
JournalThe American Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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