What is sEMG?

Static sEMG Graph

sEMG stands for Surface Electromyography

Doctors need to assess muscle function associated with patients’ impairments. Our muscles function both passively and actively to guide and limit our motions. Surface Electromyography (sEMG) helps doctors identify relationships and patterns between muscles that assist in creating effective care plans.

sEMG measures the amount of naturally emitted electrical activity your muscles release when contracting. This is a completely non-invasive test and is performed in one of two ways.

If a static test is performed, the patient stands in a neutral posture and metal electrodes are placed to the patients back on either side of the spine at designated levels. This test gives the doctor a bar graph reading (as seen to the left) that indicates areas of high or low voltage. This image allows the doctor to present the patient with a quantifiable and easily understood image of the patient’s muscle activity. It shows what the doctor can feel through palpation and gives both doctor and patient a way to track and discuss progress. More on Static sEMG

Dyna Lumbar2

If a dynamic test is performed, EKG stick-on electrodes are placed on the inflated muscle-group while the patient goes through a series of movements. The doctor observes how those muscles fire when bending, rotating, and flexing. For example, by monitoring the cervical paraspinals and SCM muscles in the neck, the dynamic sEMG shows if cervical impairment is present and what motions exacerbate the pain. More of Dynamic sEMG