This paper contributes to clarifying the conditions under which electrode position for surface EMG detection is critical and leads to estimates of EMG variables that are different from those obtained in other nearby locations. Whereas a number of previous works outline the need to avoid the innervation zone (or the muscle belly), many authors place electrodes in the central part or bulge of the muscle of interest where the innervation zone is likely to be. Computer simulations are presented to explain the effect of the innervation zone on amplitude, frequency and conduction velocity estimates from the signal and the need to avoid placing electrodes near it. Experimental signals recorded from some superficial muscles of the limbs and trunk (abductor pollicis brevis, flexor pollicis brevis, biceps, upper trapezius, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis) were processed providing support for the findings obtained from simulations. The use of multichannel techniques is recommended to estimate the location of the innervation zone and to properly choose the optimal position of the detection point(s) allowing meaningful estimates of EMG variables during movement analysis. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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