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Steven A. Kautz, Richard R. Neptune, and Felix E. Zajac

The target article presents a framework for coordination of one- and two-joint muscles in a variety of tasks. Static optimization analyses were performed that minimize muscle fatigue, and it is claimed that the predicted muscle forces account for essential features of EMG activity “qualitatively” well. However, static optimization analyses use the observed joint moments, which implicitly assumes that they minimize the total muscle fatigue of the task. We use a forward dynamics (i.e., relationship between muscle forces and the kinematics and kinetics of task performance) modeling approach to show that this assumption does not appear to be true in cycling (which was used as an example task in the target article). Our results challenge the hypothesized coordination framework and the underlying concept that general coordination principles for dynamic tasks can be elucidated using inverse-dynamics-based analyses.

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Steven A. Kautz, Michael E. Feltner, Edward F. Coyle, and Ann M. Baylor

A pedal dynamometer recorded changes in pedaling technique (normal and tangential components of the applied force, crank orientation, and pedal orientation) of 14 elite male 40-km time trialists who rode at constant cadence as the workload increased from similar to an easy training ride to similar to a 40-km competition. There were two techniques for adapting to increased workload. Seven subjects showed no changes in pedal orientation, and predominantly increased the vertical component of the applied force during the downstroke as the workload increased. In addition to increasing the vertical component during the downstroke, the other subjects also increased the toe up rotation of the pedal throughout the downstroke and increased the horizontal component between 0° and 90°. A second finding was that negative torque about the bottom bracket during the upstroke usually became positive (propulsive) torque at the high workload. However, while torque during the upstroke did reduce the total positive work required during the downstroke, it did not contribute significantly to the external work done because 98.6% and 96.3 % of the total work done at the low and high workloads, respectively, was done during the downstroke.