Biofeedback Resources International

109 Croton Ave.

2nd Floor, Suite #240

Ossining, NY 10562


Phone: 877-669-6463/914-762-4646

Fax: 914-762-2281


EMG Biofeedback is Powerful, So Use It

May 2020

Volume 8, Issue 2

Why do people buy something and not really use it? Maybe they think it is difficult to use. Maybe they get distracted with something else. Or maybe they forgot why it was important to buy it in the first place. I have noticed that some of the people who bought biofeedback systems that include surface EMG don’t seem to use that modality much. Some people have fallen in love with Heart Rate Variability because of its popularity or skin conductance or skin temperature because of simplicity. Others have almost totally focused on EEG/ Neurofeedback because they believe that it replaced all other biofeedback modalities.

I have even heard some biofeedback practitioners say that they don’t use EMG so that they don’t have to touch their clients as much. None of these are good reasons. Each modality has its place and specific applications. We should not assume that if one modality is going in the desired direction that the others would follow so there is no need to record and give feedback on them. Here are some reasons that I use and suggest that others use EMG.

EMG tends to be the easiest modality for a client to learn some level of control of the fastest. Skin Conductance and Temperature sensors may be simpler to apply but may be much more difficult for a client to learn to control. Temperature may go down the first few times a person tries to increase it. Once Skin Conductance goes up it may go up further as a response to seeing the increase making it more difficult to bring it down. It is relatively easy to demonstrate the concept of biofeedback in general using EMG because people have more direct voluntary control over it. Even if a person’s baseline muscle tension is relatively high, you can still ask them to tense and relax the muscle being recorded to show them the relationship between what they are do

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EMG Biofeedback is Powerful, So Use It, continued

This can help clients to understand the concept of biofeedback in general . It becomes easier for them to transfer that understanding to other peripheral modalities as well as EEG/ Neurofeedback. It is common for clients to have difficulty understanding the connection between what they are seeing on a neurofeedback screen and what their brain is doing. If they have had some experience with EMG then it is easier for them to understand the connection.

EMG biofeedback is a very useful way to help clients learn to reduce physical tension. This can be a primer for reducing autonomic stress reactions.

If you work with clients who have anger issues, EMG biofeedback can help improve body awareness and the connection between anger emotions and muscle tension. It is difficult if not impossible to really experience the emotion of anger without having increased muscle tension. This is something I learned from Val Brown, Ph.D. While talking about things that make the client angry you can give the client feedback on their level of muscle tension using your EMG biofeedback instrument.

You can also give clients feedback about excess muscle tension while they are doing tasks like typing, texting, or doing repetitive work movements like factory work or running a checkout register at a store. You can use EMG to increase awareness about excess muscle tension during sports activities, playing a musical instrument, or even driving. The possibilities are almost endless.

Erik Peper, Ph.D. is one of the people that I have learned a great deal from about simple uses of surface EMG. He has used it for reducing upper body effort during diaphragmatic breathing as well as working at the computer in an office situation. Now since many people are working from home he as made a generous offer of giving away digital copies of his book that goes into detail about using surface EMG biofeedback for people working at computers.

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For more advanced applications of EMG biofeedback for diagnosis and treatment of clinical issues as well as forensic, ergonomic and peak performance applications I suggest reading the article in Biofeedback Magazine entitled Surface EMG (SEMG): A Synopisis, Gabriel E. Sella, MD, Biofeedback, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 36-43. This article describes The Sella Protocol for static and dynamic muscle assessment. It will be great if you get that interested and enthusiastic about using sEMG biofeedback. Even if you don’t, there is a lot of good you can do for your clients with even the most basic uses of EMG biofeedback. Start out thinking of it as an educational tool. I’m sure you will continue to find more effective uses for it. Please register for our EMG Biofeedback Basics Webinar to learn more about how you can make better use of your EMG biofeedback instrument.

Register here: https://


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Biofeedback Resources International

109 Croton Ave.

2nd Floor, Suite #240

Ossining, NY 10562


Phone: 877-669-6463/914-762-4646

Fax: 914-762-2281


Connect with us on Social Media: @biofeedbackman on Twitter, and Biofeedback Resources International on Facebook and YouTube channel for more updates and information

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Main Screen overview

Setting preferences

Running a session using defaults

Adjusting Thresholds

Adjusting Amplitude Scales

Saving data

Reviewing Data


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