Muscle Activation Patterns in Wheelchair Basketball Athletes with and without Physical Disability

Matthew Hanks, Gretchen D. Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wheelchair basketball is a sport designed for individuals with permanent lower body disabilities. While the sport was developed for those with physical disabilities, leagues allow individuals without a disability to play the sport. The purpose of this study was to identify muscle activations of commonly used lumbopelvic-hip complex (erector spinae, rectus abdominis, and latissimus dorsi), lower extremity (gastrocnemius and rectus femoris), and upper extremity (anterior deltoid, triceps brachii, and flexor carpi radialis) musculature in wheelchair basketball free throw shooting to better understand energy transfer in wheelchair basketball players with disabilities compared to basketball players without disabilities shooting from a wheelchair. We hypothesized that muscle activations would be different between participants with disabilities and those without disabilities, and that participants with disabilities would have greater trunk and upper extremity activations due to altered mechanics. Results of this study showed greater muscle activation (% Static Posture Assessment, %SPA) of the rectus abdominis (608.0 vs. 195.0 %SPA, p = 0.025), latissimus dorsi (446.0 vs. 224.3 %SPA, p = 0.022), anterior deltoid (300.3 vs. 173.7 %SPA, p = 0.003) and triceps brachii (1537.7 vs. 832.7 %SPA, p = 0.031), with participants with disabilities yielding greater muscle activation in the four aforementioned muscles compared to the participants without disabilities. Results of this research identified greater activation in muscles commonly used in wheelchair basketball shooting in athletes with disabilities. These data could provide strategies for coaches and strength and conditioning staff members to implement strength and conditioning programs to further increase activation and efficiency in these muscles to increase performance outcomes, such as free throw shooting percentage.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Physiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 12 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive sports
  • Free throw
  • Electromyography


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