The purpose of this study was to propose and evaluate a method for the in vivo determination of the force-length-velocity relations of individual quadriceps muscles. One female subject performed maximum effort knee extensions on an isokinetic dynamometer. The gravitational and inertial effects were taken into consideration when determining the resultant knee torque. Selected anatomical and geometric parameters of the quadriceps muscles were obtained from radiography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Hill’s (1938) mechanical model was used to represent the force-velocity relation of a muscle at a given length, and the constants in Hill’s model were assumed to vary with muscle length. Experimentally determined knee torque and muscle shortening velocity data were used to determine the unknown parameters in the muscle model. The relation between each muscle parameter and muscle length for each muscle was obtained using regression analysis. On average, the muscle model overestimated the knee torque by 15.5 ± 5.1%. The overestimations may have resulted from the lack of low torque-high velocity data for the determination of muscle model parameters. When a set of fixed Hill constants was used, the knee torque was underestimated by 29.0 ± 10.6%. The results demonstrate the feasibility of the method proposed in this study.
At the time of the study, all authors were with the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242. J.W. Chow is now with the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.