Innervation zone of the vastus medialis muscle: position and effect on surface EMG variables

A Gallina, R Merletti, M Gazzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to investigate the position of the innervation zone (IZ) of the vastus medialis (VM) and its effect on the electromyographic (EMG) amplitude and mean frequency estimates. Eighteen healthy subjects performed maximal isometric knee extensions at three knee angles. Surface EMG signals were collected by using a 16 × 8 electrode grid placed on the VM muscle. The position of the IZ was estimated through visual analysis, and traditional bipolar signals were obtained from channels over and away from it; amplitude and mean frequency values were extracted and compared using an analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures. The IZ is shaped as a line running from the proximal–lateral to the distal–medial aspect of the VM muscle. The presence of an IZ under the electrodes lowered the EMG amplitude (P < 0.001, F = 58.11) and increased the EMG mean frequency (P < 0.001, F = 26.47); variations of these parameters due to the knee flexion angle were less frequently observed in EMG signals collected over than away from the IZ. Electrodes placed 'over the belly of the VM muscle' are likely to collect EMG signals influenced by the presence of the IZ, thus hindering the detection of changes in muscle activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1411-1422
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


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