Reduced elbow extension torque during vibrations

Bernd Friesenbichler, Aurel Coza, Benno M. Nigg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Impact sports and vibration platforms trigger vibrations within soft tissues and the skeleton. Although the long-term effects of vibrations on the body have been studied extensively, the acute effects of vibrations are little understood. This study determined the influence of acute vibrations at different frequencies and elbow angles on maximal isometric elbow extension torque and muscle activity. Vibrations were generated by a pneumatic vibrator attached to the lever of a dynamometer, and were applied on the forearm of 15 healthy female subjects. The subjects were instructed to push maximally against the lever at three different elbow angles, while extension torque and muscle activity were quantified and compared between vibration and non-vibration (control) conditions. A change in vibration frequency had no significant effects on torque and muscle activity although vibrations in general decreased the maximal extension torque relative to the control by 1.8% (±5.7%, p>0.05), 7.4% (±7.9%, p<0.01), and 5.0% (±8.2%, p<0.01) at elbow angles of 60°, 90°, and 120°, respectively. Electromyographic activity increased significantly between ~30% and 40% in both triceps and biceps with vibrations. It is speculated that a similar increase in muscle activity between agonist and antagonist, in combination with an unequal increase in muscle moment arms about the elbow joint, limit the maximal extension torque during exposure to vibrations. This study showed that maximal extension torque decreased during vibration exposure while muscle activity increased and suggests that vibrations may be counterproductive during activities requiring maximal strength but potentially beneficial for strength training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2203-2207
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Aug 31 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Elbow
  • Muscle
  • Muscle activity
  • Performance
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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