Length and moment arm of human leg muscles as a function of knee and hip-joint angles

J. J. Visser, J. E. Hoogkamer, M. F. Bobbert, P. A. Huijing*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Lengths of muscle tendon complexes of the quadriceps femoris muscle and some of its heads, biceps femoris and gastrocnemius muscles, were measured for six limbs of human cadavers as a function of knee and hip-joint angles. Length-angle curves were fitted using second degree polynomials. Using these polynomials the relationships between knee and hip-joint angles and moment arms were calculated. The effect of changing the hip angle on the biceps femoris muscle length is much larger than that of changing the knee angle. For the rectus femoris muscle the reverse was found. The moment arm of the biceps femoris muscle was found to remain constant throughout the whole range of knee flexion as was the case for the medial part of the vastus medialis muscle. Changes in the length of the lateral part of the vastus medialis muscle as well as the medial part of the vastus lateralis muscle are very similar to those of vastus intermedius muscle to which they are adjacent, while those changes in the length of the medial part of the vastus medialis muscle and the lateral part of the vastus lateralis muscle, which are similar to each other, differ substantially from those of the vastus intermedius muscle. Application of the results to jumping showed that bi-articular rectus femoris and biceps femoris muscles, which are antagonists, both contract eccentrically early in the push off phase and concentrically in last part of this phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-460
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Volume61
Issue number5-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1990

Keywords

  • Joint angle
  • Lower limb
  • Moment arm
  • Muscle length changes

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