Sensitivity of 24-h EMG duration and intensity in the human vastus lateralis muscle to threshold changes

Cliff S. Klein, Lillian B. Peterson, Sean Ferrell, Christine K. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Few studies have quantified lower limb muscle activity over 24 h using electromyographic signals (EMG). None have described the changes in EMG duration and intensity when data are analyzed with different thresholds. Continuous bilateral EMG recordings were made from vastus lateralis (VL) in 10 subjects (20-48 yr) for 24 h. Before and after this recording, voluntary quadriceps forces and VL EMG at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), percentage voluntary activation (twitch interpolation), and compound action potentials (Mwaves) were recorded. Offline, the 24-h EMG integrals (IEMG, 10-ms time constant) were normalized to the MVCIEMG. Total EMG duration and mean IEMG ranged from 1-3 h and 3.2-12.1% MVC, respectively, when the data were analyzed using the baseline (+3 SD) as threshold. When analysis was done with progressively higher thresholds, from baseline up to 4% MVC, the total EMG duration, declined curvilinearly. In some cases the decline in duration was 50-60% for a 1% MVC threshold increment. The mean 24-h IEMG increased by 1.5-2% MVC for each 1% MVC threshold increment. Hence, a small change in the analysis threshold may result in large changes in 24-h EMG duration, but moderate changes in mean IEMG. Our findings suggest that VL was active for a short amount of time and at low intensities over 24 h.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-661
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Electromyogram
  • Electromyogram threshold
  • Long-term electromyogram recording
  • Maximal voluntary contraction
  • Voluntary activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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