Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2018) 17, 101 - 109

Research article
Textile Electrodes Embedded in Clothing: A Practical Alternative to Traditional Surface Electromyography when Assessing Muscle Excitation during Functional Movements
Steffi L. Colyer , Polly M. McGuigan
Author Information
Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK

Steffi L. Colyer
‚úČ Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, United Kingdom
Publish Date
Received: 26-10-2017
Accepted: 25-12-2017
Published (online): 01-03-2018
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Textile electromyography (EMG) electrodes embedded in clothing allow muscle excitation to be recorded in previously inaccessible settings; however, their ability to accurately and reliably measure EMG during dynamic tasks remains largely unexplored. To quantify the validity and reliability of textile electrodes, 16 recreationally active males completed two identical testing sessions, within which three functional movements (run, cycle and squat) were performed twice: once wearing EMG shorts (measuring quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals myoelectric activity) and once with surface EMG electrodes attached to the vastus lateralis, biceps femoris and gluteus maximus. EMG signals were identically processed to provide average rectified EMG (normalized to walking) and excitation length. Results were compared across measurement systems and demonstrated good agreement between the magnitude of muscle excitation when EMG activity was lower, but agreement was poorer when excitation was higher. The length of excitation bursts was consistently longer when measured using textile vs. surface EMG electrodes. Comparable between-session (day-to-day) repeatability was found for average rectified EMG (mean coefficient of variation, CV: 42.6 and 41.2%) and excitation length (CV: 12.9 and 9.8%) when using textile and surface EMG, respectively. Additionally, similar within-session repeatability (CV) was recorded for average rectified EMG (13.8 and 14.1%) and excitation length (13.0 and 12.7%) for textile and surface electrodes, respectively. Generally, textile EMG electrodes appear to be capable of providing comparable muscle excitation information and reproducibility to surface EMG during dynamic tasks. Textile EMG shorts could therefore be a practical alternative to traditional laboratory-based methods allowing muscle excitation information to be collected in more externally-valid training environments.

Key words: EMG, lower-limb, myoelectric activity, reliability, validity

           Key Points
  • Muscle excitation (normalized average rectified EMG) during functional tasks was generally comparable across the textile EMG and traditional surface EMG systems
  • Excitation lengths tend to be longer when collected using textile electrodes compared with traditional surface electrodes
  • Reproducibility is similar across the two systems
  • Textile EMG electrodes can provide a practical alternative to traditional surface EMG, which may allow greater opportunity to collect muscle excitation information in externally-valid, field-based environments, such as normal training situations
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