Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2008 Dec;18(6):1006-19. Epub 2007 Jul 20.

The assessment of back muscle capacity using intermittent static contractions. Part I - Validity and reliability of electromyographic indices of fatigue.

Author information

Occupational Health and Safety Research Institute Robert-Sauvé, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 3C2.



Back muscle capacity is impaired in chronic low back pain patients but no motivation-free test exists to measure it. The aims of this study were to assess the reliability and criterion validity of electromyographic indices of muscle fatigue during an intermittent absolute endurance test.


Healthy subjects (44 males and 29 females; age: 20-55 yrs) performed three maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) and a fatigue test while standing in a static dynamometer. Surface EMG signals were collected from four pairs of back muscles (multifidus at the L5 level, iliocostalis lumborum at L3, and longissimus at L1 and T10). The fatigue test, assessing absolute endurance (90-Nm torque), consisted in performing an intermittent extension task to exhaustion. Strength was defined as the peak MVC whereas our endurance criterion was defined as the time to reach exhaustion (Tend) during the fatigue test. From the first five min (females) or ten min (males) of EMG data, frequency and time-frequency domain analyses were applied to compute various spectral indices of muscle fatigue.


The EMG indices were more reliable when computed from the time-frequency domain than when computed from the frequency domain, but showed comparable correlation results (criterion validity) with Tend and Strength. Some EMG indices reached moderate to good correlation (range: 0.64-0.69) with Tend, lower correlations (range: 0.39-0.55) with Strength, and good to excellent between-day test-retest reliability results (intra-class correlation range: 0.75-0.83). The quantification of the spectral content more locally in different frequency bands of the power spectrum was less valid and reliable than the indices computed from the entire power spectrum. Differences observed among muscles were interpreted in light of specific neuromuscular activation levels that were observed during the endurance test. These findings supported the use of an intermittent and time-limited (5-10min) absolute endurance test, that is a practical way to assess the back capacity of chronic low back pain subjects, to assess absolute endurance as well as strength with the use of electromyographic indices of muscle fatigue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center