Band Pull-Apart Exercise: Effects of Movement Direction and Hand Position on Shoulder Muscle Activity.
Fukunaga T, Fedge C, Tyler T, et al.
Background/Purpose: The elastic band pull-apart exercise is commonly used in rehabilitation. It involves pulling an elastic resistance band with both hands in horizontal abduction or diagonal arm movements. The extent of muscle activation during this exercise is unknown. The purpose of this study was to measure the electromyographic (EMG) activity of shoulder-girdle muscles during the pull-apart exercise using resistance bands and to determine the effects of arm position and movement direction on shoulder-girdle muscle activity.
Materials/Methods: Surface EMG activity was measured on the infraspinatus, upper trapezius, middle trapezius, lower trapezius and posterior deltoid of the dominant shoulder. After measurement of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) for each muscle, subjects performed the band pull-apart exercise in three hand positions (palm up, neutral, palm down) and three movement directions (diagonal up, horizontal, diagonal down). Elastic band resistance was chosen to elicit moderate exertion (5/10 on the Borg CR10 scale). The order of the exercises was randomized and three repetitions of each exercise were performed. Mean peak EMG activity in each muscle across the repetitions was calculated and expressed as a percentage of MVC. Peak normalized EMG activity in each muscle was compared in two-way (hand position x direction) repeated-measures ANOVA.
Results: Data were collected from 10 healthy subjects (all males, age 36±12 years). Peak muscle activity ranged from 15.3% to 72.6% of MVC across muscles and exercise conditions. There was a significant main effect of hand position for the infraspinatus and lower trapezius, where muscle activity was highest with the palm up hand position (p < 0.001), and for the upper trapezius and posterior deltoid, where muscle activity was highest with the palm down position (p-value range < 0.001-0.004). There was a significant main effect of movement direction, where the diagonal up direction demonstrated the highest muscle activity for the infraspinatus, upper trapezius, lower trapezius, and posterior deltoid (p-value range < 0.001-0.02).
Conclusion: Altering hand position and movement direction during performance of an elastic band pull-apart exercise can affect magnitudes of shoulder-girdle muscle activity. Clinicians may alter a patient’s hand position and movement direction while performing the band pull-apart exercise in order to increase muscle activity in target muscles or diminish muscle activity in other muscles.
Level of Evidence: 2b