Activity patterns of extrinsic finger flexors and extensors during movements of instructed and non-instructed fingers

Nathalie van Beek, Dick F. Stegeman, Josien C. van den Noort, Dirk Jan Veeger, Huub Maas*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    The fingers of the human hand cannot be controlled fully independently. This phenomenon may have a neurological as well as a mechanical basis. Despite previous studies, the neuromechanics of finger movements are not fully understood. The aims of this study were (1) to assess the activation and coactivation patterns of finger specific flexor and extensor muscle regions during instructed single finger flexion and (2) to determine the relationship between enslaved finger movements and respective finger muscle activation. In 9 healthy subjects (age 22–29), muscle activation was assessed during single finger flexion using a 90 surface electromyography electrode grid placed over the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) and the extensor digitorum (ED). We found (1) no significant differences in muscle activation timing between fingers, (2) considerable muscle activity in flexor and extensor regions associated with the non-instructed fingers and (3) no correlation between the muscle activations and corresponding movement of non-instructed fingers. A clear disparity was found between the movement pattern of the non-instructed fingers and the activity pattern of the corresponding muscle regions. This suggests that mechanical factors, such as intertendinous and myofascial connections, may also affect finger movement independency and need to be taken into consideration when studying finger movement.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)187-196
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of electromyography and kinesiology
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


    • Coactivation
    • EMG
    • Kinematics
    • Muscle compartmentalization
    • Neuromuscular control
    • n/a OA procedure


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