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Open Access Research article

Surface electromyography during physical exercise in water: a systematic review

Antonio Ignacio Cuesta-Vargas12* and Carlos Leonardo Cano-Herrera3

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Psiquiatria y Fisioterapia, Instituto de Biomedicina de Malaga (IBIMA), Grupo de Clinimetria (AE-14), Universidad de Málaga, Andalucía Tech, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Av/ Arquitecto Peñalosa s/n (Teatinos Campus Expansion), 29009 Malaga, Spain

2 School of Clinical Sciences of the Faculty of Health at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

3 Universidad de Málaga, Andalucía Tech, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Av/ Arquitecto Peñalosa s/n (Teatinos Campus Expansion), 29009 Málaga, Spain

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BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation 2014, 6:15  doi:10.1186/2052-1847-6-15

Published: 15 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Aquatic exercise has been widely used for rehabilitation and functional recovery due to its physical and physiological benefits. However, there is a high variability in reporting on the muscle activity from surface electromyographic (sEMG) signals. The aim of this study is to present an updated review of the literature on the state of the art of muscle activity recorded using sEMG during activities and exercise performed by humans in water.

Methods

A literature search was performed to identify studies of aquatic exercise movement.

Results

Twenty-one studies were selected for critical appraisal. Sample size, functional tasks analyzed, and muscles recorded were studied for each paper. The clinical contribution of the paper was evaluated.

Conclusions

Muscle activity tends to be lower in water-based compared to land-based activity; however more research is needed to understand why. Approaches from basic and applied sciences could support the understanding of relevant aspects for clinical practice.

Keywords:
Electromyography; Aquatics; Hydrotherapy; Review