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Graham E. Caldwell

The effects of relative tendon/fiber proportion and tendon elasticity on the force output of the Hill muscle model (a contractile component [CC] in series with an elastic element [SEC]) were examined through computer simulation. Three versions of the Hill model were constructed. Model 1 examined the effect of relative tendon/fiber proportion on CC kinematics and kinetics during an isometric twitch, while Model 2 compared the effect of changes in tendon compliance. These models revealed force profile differences related to alterations in CC velocity, although the reasons underlying the variation in CC kinematics were different. The relative tendon/fiber proportion and tendon compliance differences were examined in combination in Model 3. Test simulations revealed response differences among the three model versions, and therefore verified Alexander and Ker's (1990) contention that the morphology of muscle is related to design criteria. It is suggested that the implementation of generalized muscle models to represent specific units of the musculoskeletal system should be done carefully and that the implementation process itself warrants further study.

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Graham E. Caldwell and Li Li

In this commentary we question whether the relationship between muscle activity and joint moments is the same for natural motor tasks as for controlled experimental situations. An important consideration in this regard is the identification of the correct electromechanical delay (EMD) for comparing EMG and joint moment data. Data from recent cycling studies are used to illustrate the importance of EMD, and how changing task constraints can alter the relation between muscle activity and joint moment balance for bi-articular antagonist pairs.

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Stephanie L. Jones and Graham E. Caldwell

This study examined the role of mono- and biarticular muscles in control of countermovement jumps (CMJ) in different directions. It was hypothesized that monoarticular muscles would demonstrate the same activity regardless of jump direction, based on previous studies which suggest their role is to generate energy to maximize center-of-mass (CM) velocity. In contrast, biarticular activity patterns were expected to change to control the direction of the ground reaction force (GRF) and CM velocity vectors. Twelve participants performed maximal CMJs in four directions: vertical, forward, intermediate forward, and backward. Electromyographical data from 4 monoarticular and 3 biarticular lower extremity muscles were analyzed with respect to segmental kinematics and kinetics during the jumps. The biarticular rectus femoris (RF), hamstrings (HA), and gastrocnemius all exhibited changes in activity magnitude and pattern as a function of jump angle. In particular, HA and RF demonstrated reciprocal trends, with HA activity increasing as jump angle changed from backward to forward, while RF activity was reduced in the forward jump condition. The vastus lateralis and gluteus maximus both demonstrated changes in activity patterns, although the former was the only monoarticular muscle to change activity level with jump direction. Mono- and biarticular muscle activities therefore did not fit with their hypothesized roles. CM and segmental kinematics suggest that jump direction was initiated early in the countermovement, and that in each jump direction the propulsion phase began from a different position with unique angular and linear momentum. Issues that dictated the muscle activity patterns in each jump direction were the early initiation of appropriate forward momentum, the transition from countermovement to propulsion, the control of individual segment rotations, the control of GRF location and direction, and the influence of the subsequent landing.

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Jeffrey J. Chu and Graham E. Caldwell

Studies on shock attenuation during running have induced alterations in impact loading by imposing kinematic constraints, e.g., stride length changes. The role of shock attenuation mechanisms has been shown using mass-spring-damper (MSD) models, with spring stiffness related to impact shock dissipation. The present study altered the magnitude of impact loading by changing downhill surface grade, thus allowing runners to choose their own preferred kinematic patterns. We hypothesized that increasing downhill grade would cause concomitant increases in both impact shock and shock attenuation, and that MSD model stiffness values would reflect these increases. Ten experienced runners ran at 4.17 m/s on a treadmill at surface grades of 0% (level) to 12% downhill. Accelerometers were placed on the tibia and head, and reflective markers were used to register segmental kinematics. An MSD model was used in conjunction with head and tibial accelerations to determine head/arm/trunk center of mass (HATCOM) stiffness (K1), and lower extremity (LEGCOM) stiffness (K2) and damping (C). Participants responded to increases in downhill grade in one of two ways. Group LowSA had lower peak tibial accelerations but greater peak head accelerations than Group HighSA, and thus had lower shock attenuation. LowSA also showed greater joint extension at heelstrike, higher HATCOM heelstrike velocity, reduced K1 stiffness, and decreased damping than HighSA. The differences between groups were exaggerated at the steeper downhill grades. The separate responses may be due to conflicts between the requirements of controlling HATCOM kinematics and shock attenuation. LowSA needed greater joint extension to resist their higher HATCOM heelstrike velocities, but a consequence of this strategy was the reduced ability to attenuate shock with the lower extremity joints during early stance. With lower HATCOM impact velocities, the HighSA runners were able to adopt a strategy that gave more control of shock attenuation, especially at the steepest grades.

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Timothy R. Derrick, Graham E. Caldwell, and Joseph Hamill

A modified mass-spring-damper model was used to simulate the vertical ground reaction forces of a human runner as stride length was altered. Spring stiffness values were selected by an optimizing routine that altered model parameters to match the model ground reaction force curve to a runner’s actual ground reaction force curve. A mass in series with a spring was used to simulate the behavior of body structures that produce the active portion of the ground reaction force. A second mass in series with a spring-damper system was used to simulate the behavior of those components that cause the impact portion of the ground reaction force. The stiffness of the active spring showed a 51% decrease as subjects increased their stride length. The stiffness value of the impact spring showed a trend opposite that of the active spring, increasing by 20% as strides lengthened. It appears that the impact stiffness plays a role in preventing the support leg from collapsing in response to the increased contact velocities seen in the longer strides.

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Sangsoo Park, Richard Van Emmerik, and Graham E. Caldwell

The aim of this study was to describe how major leg muscle activities are altered after learning a novel one-legged pedaling task. Fifteen recreational cyclists practiced one-legged pedaling trials during which they were instructed to match their applied pedal force to a target direction perpendicular to the crank arm. Activity in 10 major leg muscles was measured with surface electromyography electrodes. Improved upstroke task performance was obtained by greater activity in the hip and ankle flexor muscles, counteracting the negative effects of gravity. Greater quadriceps activities explained improved targeting near top dead center. Reduced uniarticular knee and ankle extensor downstroke activities were necessary to prevent freewheeling. Greater hamstring and tibialis anterior activities improved targeting performance near the bottom of the pedal stroke. The activity patterns of the biarticular plantarflexors changed little, likely due to their contributions as knee flexors for smooth upstroke pedaling motion. These results add to our understanding of how the degrees of freedom at the muscle level are altered in a cooperative manner to overcome gravitational effects in order to achieve the learning goal of the motor task while satisfying multiple constraints—in this case, the production of smooth one-legged pedaling motion at the designated mechanical task demands.

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Joseph Hamill, Graham E. Caldwell, and Timothy R. Derrick

Researchers must be cognizant of the frequency content of analog signals that they are collecting. Knowing the frequency content allows the researcher to determine the minimum sampling frequency of the data (Nyquist critical frequency), ensuring that the digital data will have all of the frequency characteristics of the original signal. The Nyquist critical frequency is 2 times greater than the highest frequency in the signal. When sampled at a rate above the Nyquist, the digital data will contain all of the frequency characteristics of the original signal but may not present a correct time-series representation of the signal. In this paper, an algorithm known as Shannon's Sampling Theorem is presented that correctly reconstructs the time-series profile of any signal sampled above the Nyquist critical frequency. This method is superior to polynomial or spline interpolation techniques in that it can reconstruct peak values found in the original signal but missing from the sampled data time-series.

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Christopher J. Hasson, Richard E.A. van Emmerik, and Graham E. Caldwell

In this study, a comprehensive evaluation of static and dynamic balance abilities was performed in young and older adults and regression analysis was used to test whether age-related variations in individual ankle muscle mechanical properties could explain differences in balance performance. The mechanical properties included estimates of the maximal isometric force capability, force-length, force-velocity, and series elastic properties of the dorsiflexors and individual plantarflexor muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus). As expected, the older adults performed more poorly on most balance tasks. Muscular maximal isometric force, optimal fiber length, tendon slack length, and velocity-dependent force capabilities accounted for up to 60% of the age-related variation in performance on the static and dynamic balance tests. In general, the plantarflexors had a stronger predictive role than the dorsiflexors. Plantarflexor stiffness was strongly related to general balance performance, particularly in quiet stance; but this effect did not depend on age. Together, these results suggest that age-related differences in balance performance are explained in part by alterations in muscular mechanical properties.

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Graham E. Caldwell, James M. Hagberg, Steve D. McCole, and Li Li

Lower extremity joint moments were investigated in three cycling conditions: level seated, uphill seated and uphill standing. Based on a previous study (Caldwell, Li, McCole, & Hagberg, 1998), it was hypothesized that joint moments in the uphill standing condition would be altered in both magnitude and pattern. Eight national caliber cyclists were filmed while riding their own bicycles mounted to a computerized ergometer. Applied forces were measured with an instrumented pedal, and inverse dynamics were used to calculate joint moments. In the uphill seated condition the joint moments were similar in profile to the level seated but with a modest increase in magnitude. In the uphill standing condition the peak ankle plantarflexor moment was much larger and occurred later in the downstroke than in the seated conditions. The extensor knee moment that marked the first portion of the down-stroke for the seated trials was extended much further into the downstroke while standing, and the subsequent knee flexor moment period was of lower magnitude and shorter duration. These moment changes in the standing condition can be explained by a combination of more forward hip and knee positions, increased magnitude of pedal force, and an altered pedal force vector direction. The data support the notion of an altered contribution of both muscular and non-muscular sources to the applied pedal force. Muscle length estimates and muscle activity data from an earlier study (Li & Caldwell, 1996) support the unique roles of mono-articular muscles for energy generation and bi-articular muscles for balancing of adjacent joint moments in the control of pedal force vector direction.

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Graham E. Caldwell, Li Li, Steve D. McCole, and James M. Hagberg

Alterations in kinetic patterns of pedal force and crank torque due to changes in surface grade (level vs. 8% uphill) and posture (seated vs. standing) were investigated during cycling on a computerized ergometer. Kinematic data from a planar cine analysis and force data from a pedal instrumented with piezoelectric crystals were recorded from multiple trials of 8 elite cyclists. These measures were used to calculate pedal force, pedal orientation, and crank torque profiles as a function of crank angle in three conditions: seated level, seated uphill, and standing uphill. The change in surface grade from level to 8% uphill resulted in a shift in pedal angle (toe up) and a moderately higher peak crank torque, due at least in part to a reduction in the cycling cadence. However, the overall patterns of pedal and crank kinetics were similar in the two seated conditions. In contrast, the alteration in posture from sitting to standing on the hill permitted the subjects to produce different patterns of pedal and crank kinetics, characterized by significantly higher peak pedal force and crank torque that occurred much later in the downstroke. These kinetic changes were associated with modified pedal orientation (toe down) throughout the crank cycle. Further, the kinetic changes were linked to altered nonmuscular (gravitational and inertial) contributions to the applied pedal force, caused by the removal of the saddle as a base of support.