Do surface electromyograms provide physiological estimates of conduction velocity from the medial gastrocnemius muscle?

Alessio Gallina, Cintia H. Ritzel, Roberto Merletti, Taian M.M. Vieira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Muscle fiber conduction velocity (CV) is commonly estimated from surface electromyograms (EMGs) collected with electrodes parallel to muscle fibers. If electrodes and muscle fibers are not located in parallel planes, CV estimates are biased towards values far over the physiological range. In virtue of their pinnate architecture, the fibers of muscles such as the gastrocnemius are hardly aligned in planes parallel to surface electrodes. Therefore, in this study we investigate whether physiological CV estimates can be obtained from the gastrocnemius muscle. Specifically, with a large grid of 16 × 8 electrodes we map CV estimates over the whole gastrocnemius muscle while eleven subjects exerted isometric plantar flexions at three different force levels. CV was estimated for couples of single differential EMGs and estimate locations (i.e., channels) were classified as physiological and non-physiological, depending on whether CV estimates were within the physiological range (3–6 ms−1) or not. Physiological CV values could be estimated from a markedly small muscle region for eight participants; channels providing physiological CV estimates corresponded to about 5% of the total number of channels. As expected, physiological and non-physiological channels were clustered in distinct regions. CV estimates within the physiological range were obtained for the most distal gastrocnemius portion (ANOVA, P < 0.001), where occurrences of propagating potentials were often verified through visual analysis. For the first time, this study shows that CV might be reliably assessed from surface EMGs collected from the most distal gastrocnemius region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-325
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


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