Normalization procedures using maximum voluntary isometric contractions for the serratus anterior and trapezius muscles during surface EMG analysis


The serratus anterior and trapezius muscles are considered to be the only upward rotators of the scapula and are very important for normal shoulder function. A variety of methods have been used to produce a maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) of these muscles for normalization of EMG data. The purpose of this study was to quantify the surface EMG activity of the serratus anterior muscle and the upper, middle, and lower parts of the trapezius during 9 manual muscle tests performed with maximum effort in 30 subjects. It was found that no one muscle test produced a MVIC for all individuals. Therefore, to perform normalization within each subject, it is suggested that the 2 or 3 tests identified in this study that produce high levels of EMG activity for each muscle be performed. The scapular protraction muscle test that is often used to normalize data for the serratus anterior muscle produced relatively low levels of EMG activity and was not found to be an optimal test. Muscle tests in which an attempt was made to de-rotate the scapula from an upwardly rotated position produced much higher levels of EMG activity in the serratus anterior muscle.


Physical Therapy

Document Type





Electromyography, Manual muscle testing, Normalization, Serratus anterior muscle, Trapezius muscle

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology