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 (2023) 22, 1 - 16   DOI:

Review article
Underwater Surface Electromyography for the Evaluation of Muscle Activity during Front Crawl Swimming: A Systematic Review
Wan Yu Kwok1, Billy Chun Lung So1,2, , Sheung Mei Shamay Ng1
Author Information
1 Gait and Motion Analysis Laboratory, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
2 Research Institute for Sports Science and Technology, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong

Billy Chun Lung So
✉ Assistant Professor, ST506, Ng Wing Hong Building, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Publish Date
Received: 13-02-2022
Accepted: 08-12-2022
Published (online): 01-03-2023

This systematic review is aimed to provide an up-to-date summary and review on the use of surface electromyography (sEMG) in evaluating front crawl (FC) swim performance. Several online databases were searched by different combinations of selected keywords, in total 1956 articles were retrieved, and each article was assessed by a 10-item quality checklist. 16 articles were eligible to be included in this study, and most of the articles were evaluating the muscle activity about the swimming phases and focused on assessing the upper limbs muscles, only few studies have assessed the performance in starts and turns phases. Insufficient information about these two phases despite the critical contribution on final swimming time. Also, with the contribution roles of legs and trunk muscles in swimming performance, more research should be conducted to explore the overall muscle activation pattern and their roles on swimming performance. Moreover, more detailed description in participants’ characteristics and more investigations of bilateral muscle activity and the asymmetrical effects on relevant biomechanical performance are recommended. Lastly, with increasing attention about the effects of muscles co-activation on swimming performance, more in-depth investigations on this topic are also highly recommended, for evaluating its influence on swimmers.

Key words: Muscle activity, front crawl, electromyography, bilateral asymmetry, sEMG, muscle co-activation

           Key Points
  • Biased investigations of upper limbs’ muscles activity due to the important role in FC swim.
  • More experiments should be conducted to evaluate muscle activity during starts and turns.
  • Insufficient information about the muscle activity of leg and trunk muscles during FC swim.
  • More exploration about the roles or contribution of muscle co-activation on swimming performance is highly recommended.
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