Shoulder muscle reflex latencies under various levels of muscle contraction

Joseph B. Myers, Bryan L. Riemann, Yan Ying Ju, Ji Hye Hwang, Patrick J. McMahon, Scott M. Lephart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Previous research in relaxed muscles shows that muscle reflex latencies are too slow to protect the shoulder. However, during athletic activity when injury occurs, some level of shoulder muscle contraction typically exists. The purpose of the current study was to assess shoulder muscle reflex latencies under various levels of muscle contraction. Seventeen healthy subjects participated. A perturbation consisting of an external rotation collision force to the anterior forearm in a position of apprehension under various levels of muscle contraction (0%, 20%, and 50% of a maximum voluntary muscle contraction) was applied. Muscle reflex latencies were measured as the time from perturbation application to onset of muscle activity. Electromyography measured activity onset of the rotator cuff muscles and the primary humeral movers. During 0%, the latissimus dorsi muscle reflex latency was significantly slower than most other muscles. No difference existed between muscles in the 20% and 50% conditions. For the rotator cuff muscles, the reflex latencies significantly quickened for 20% and 50% compared with the relaxed state (0%). Overall, introducing muscle contraction significantly quickened muscle reflex latencies. These results provide clinicians with a better understanding of the role that these reflexes play in joint stability in a position of injury vulnerability like a position of apprehension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-101
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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