Understanding joint stiffness and stability is beneficial for assessing injury risk. The purpose of this study was to examine joint rotational stiffness for individual muscles contributing to elbow joint stability. Fifteen male participants maintained combinations of three body orientations (standing, supine, sitting) and three hand preloads (no load, solid tube, fluid filled tube) while a device imposed a sudden elbow extension. Elbow angle and activity from nine muscles were inputs to a biomechanical model to determine relative contributions to elbow joint rotational stiffness, reported as percent of total stiffness. A body orientation by preload interaction was evident for most muscles (P < .001). Brachioradialis had the largest change in contribution while standing (no load, 18.5%; solid, 23.8%; fluid, 26.3%). Across trials, the greatest contributions were brachialis (30.4 ± 1.9%) and brachioradialis (21.7 ± 2.2%). Contributions from the forearm muscles and triceps were 5.5 ± 0.6% and 9.2 ± 1.9%, respectively. Contributions increased at time points closer to the perturbation (baseline to anticipatory), indicating increased neuromuscular response to resist rotation. This study quantified muscle contributions that resist elbow perturbations, found that forearm muscles contribute marginally and showed that orientation and preload should be considered when evaluating elbow joint stiffness and safety.
Michael W.R. Holmes and Peter J. Keir
Chadwick Debison-Larabie, Bernadette A. Murphy, and Michael W.R. Holmes
This study examined sex differences in head kinematics and neck muscle activity during sudden head perturbations. Sixteen competitive ice hockey players participated. Three muscles were monitored bilaterally using surface electromyography: sternocleidomastoid, scalene, and splenius capitis. Head and thorax kinematics were measured. Head perturbations were induced by the release of a 1.5-kg weight attached to a wire wrapped around an adjustable pulley secured to the participant’s head. Perturbations were delivered in 4 directions (flexion, extension, right lateral bend, and left lateral bend). Muscle onset times, muscle activity, and head kinematics were examined during 3 time periods (2 preperturbation and 1 postperturbation). Females had significantly greater head acceleration during left lateral bend (31.4%, P < .05) and flexion (37.9%, P = .01). Females had faster muscle onset times during flexion (females = 51 ± 11 ms; males = 61 ± 10 ms; P = .001) and slower onset times during left lateral bend and extension. Females had greater left/right sternocleidomastoid and scalene activity during extension (P = .01), with no difference in head acceleration. No consistent neuromuscular strategy could explain all directional sex differences. Females had greater muscle activity postperturbation during extension, suggesting a neuromuscular response to counter sudden acceleration, possibly explaining the lack of head acceleration differences.