Abstract Background In this paper we review applications of continuous relative phase and commonly reported methods for calculating the phase angle. Signals with known properties as well as empirical data were used to compare methods for calculating the phase angle. Findings Our results suggest that the most valid, robust and intuitive results are obtained from the following steps: 1) centering the amplitude of the original signals around zero, 2) creating analytic signals from the original signals using the Hilbert transform, 3) calculating the phase angle using the analytic signal and 4) calculating the continuous relative phase. Interpretations The resulting continuous relative phase values are free of frequency artifacts, a problem associated with most normalization techniques, and the interpretation remains intuitive. We propose these methods for future research using continuous relative phase in studies and analyses of human movement coordination.