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Forearm posture and grip effects during push and pull tasks

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Direction of loading and performance of multiple tasks have been shown to elevate muscle activity in the upper extremity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of gripping on muscle activity and applied force during pushing and pulling tasks with three forearm postures. Twelve volunteers performed five hand-based tasks in supinated, neutral and pronated forearm postures with the elbow at 90° and upper arm vertical. All tasks were performed with the right (dominant) hand and included hand grip alone, push and pull with and without hand grip. Surface EMG from eight upper extremity muscles, hand grip force, tri-axial push and pull forces and wrist angles were recorded during the 10 s trials. The addition of a pull force to hand grip elevated activity in all forearm muscles (all p < 0.017). During all push with grip tasks, forearm extensor muscle activity tended to increase when compared with grip only while flexor activity tended to decrease. Forearm extensor muscle activity was higher with the forearm pronated compared with neutral and supinated postures during most isolated grip tasks and push or pull with grip tasks (all p < 0.017). When the grip dynamometer was rotated so that the push and pull forces could act to assist in creating grip force, forearm muscle activity generally decreased. These results provide strategies for reducing forearm muscle loading in the workplace. Statement of Relevance: Tools and tasks designed to take advantage of coupling grip with push or pull actions may be beneficial in reducing stress and injury in the muscles of the forearm. These factors should be considered in assessing the workplace in terms of acute and cumulative loading.
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Keywords: EMG; force; force coupling; forearm; grip; posture; pull; push; upper extremity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Kinesiology & Health Science, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada 2: Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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