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Violaine Sevrez, Guillaume Rao, Eric Berton and Reinoud J. Bootsma

Five elite gymnasts performed giant circles on the high bar under different conditions of loading (without and with 6-kg loads attached to the shoulders, waist or ankles). Comparing the gymnasts’ kinematic pattern of movement with that of a triple-pendulum moving under the sole influence of nonmuscular forces revealed qualitative similarities, including the adoption of an arched position during the downswing and a piked position during the upswing. The structuring role of nonmuscular forces in the organization of movement was further reinforced by the results of an inverse dynamics analysis, assessing the contributions of gravitational, inertial and muscular components to the net joint torques. Adding loads at the level of the shoulders, waist or ankles systematically influenced movement kinematics and net joint torques. However, with the loads attached at the level of the shoulders or waist, the load-induced changes in gravitational and inertial torques provided the required increase in net joint torque, thereby allowing the muscular torques to remain unchanged. With the loads attached at the level of the ankles, this was no longer the case and the gymnasts increased the muscular torques at the shoulder and hip joints. Together, these results demonstrate that expert gymnasts skillfully exploit the operative nonmuscular forces, employing muscle force only in the capacity of complementary forces needed to perform the task.

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Michael E. Feltner and Jesús Dapena

The motion of a body segment is determined by joint torques and by the motions of the segments proximal or distal to it. This paper describes a three-dimensional model that was used to determine the effects of the shoulder and elbow joint torques and of the upper trunk and arm motions on the angular accelerations of the arm segments during baseball pitching. Equations were developed to fractionate the three-dimensional components of the angular acceleration vector of each segment into angular acceleration terms associated with the joint torques made on the segment, and into various “motion-dependent” angular acceleration terms associated with the kinematic variables of the arm segments. Analysis of the values of the various motion-dependent angular acceleration terms permitted the determination of their contributions to the motion of the segment. Although the model was developed to provide further understanding of the mechanics of the throwing arm during baseball pitching, it can be used to analyze any two-segment two-dimensional or three-dimensional motion.

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Spiros G. Prassas

A biomechanical model of the press handstand was developed to evaluate and predict the shoulder joint torque requirements as well as the motion of a gymnast’s center of mass (CM) from an initial to a final (handstand) position. Five press handstands executed by gymnasts of differing abilities were filmed and analyzed. The results were compared to the predicted parameters of simulated presses. It was found that execution of the skill with fewer fluctuations in trunk and lower extremities angular velocity—a characteristic of skilled performance—required smoother and at times larger shoulder joint torques. Reduction of the hip joint angle by only 5 or 10° did not substantially reduce the shoulder joint torque requirements. Regarding CM motion, it was found that during performance the CM continuously elevated and remained close to a vertical line passing through the center of the wrist joint. All gymnasts, however, were found to be leaning slightly backward during the first part of the movement and slightly forward during the later phases. Modifications in wrist joint angle required to maintain each gymnast’s CM precisely above the center of the wrist joint were investigated.

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David Hawkins and Mark Smeulders

The purpose of this study was to determine if the characteristic Hill model, used to describe me force–velocity relationship for isolated tetanically stimulated muscle, could be modified and used to describe me torque–velocity behavior of me hip for maximally and submaximally stimulated hip extensor muscles. Fourteen subjects performed hip extension movements at effort levels of 100%, 70%, and 40% of a maximum isometric effort. A solenoid provided isometric resistance to hip extension. Once the desired effort level was achieved, as indicated by me isometric force, the solenoid released and me hip moved against an opposing elastic resistance equal to 75%, 50%, 25%, and 0% of the specified effort level. An electrogoniometer quantified hip angle. Hip velocity was determined by numerically differentiating the angle data. Torque-velocity-activation (or effort level) data were determined for each trial. Model parameters were determined to give me best fit to the data for each subject. Average parameter values were determined for each gender and for the entire group. The modified Hill-type model, T m = (T max · AK 1 · ω)/(K2 · ω + 1), accurately describes me relationship between joint torque (T m), maximum isometric joint torque (T max), joint velocity (ω), and muscle activation level (A) for subject-specific parameters (K 1 and K 2), but not for parameters averaged across genders or the entire group. Values for T max, K 1, and K 2 ranged from 90 to 385 Nm, 6.1 to 47.9 Nms, and 0.030 to 0.716 s, respectively.

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Jessie M. Huisinga, Kendra K. Schmid, Mary L. Filipi and Nicholas Stergiou

Multiple sclerosis (MS) causes severe gait problems in relatively young individuals, yet there have been limited studies to quantitatively identify the specific gait parameters that are affected. The purpose of this study was to define any differences in biomechanical gait parameters between patients with MS and healthy controls. A total of 31 MS patients and 31 healthy controls were evaluated: joint torques and joint powers were calculated at the ankle, knee, and hip during the stance phase of gait. The self-selected walking velocity was used as a covariate in the analysis to ensure that group differences were not due to differences in walking velocity between the MS and healthy control groups. Reduced angular range, less joint torque, and reduced joint power were seen in patients with MS. We also found significant correlations between biomechanical gait parameters and EDSS score, which provides a clinical rating of disease severity. Our findings provide a quantitative assessment of the gait mechanics employed in patients with MS. The altered lower extremity mechanics observed in patients with MS reflect both a neurological and strength deficit compared with healthy controls during walking.

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Matthew T.G. Pain and John H. Challis

Wobbling mass models have been used to gain insight into joint loading during impacts. This study investigated the sensitivity of a wobbling mass model of landing from a drop to the model's parameters. A 2-D wobbling mass model was developed. Three rigid linked segments designed to represent the skeleton each had a second mass attached to them, via two translational nonlinear spring dampers, representing the soft tissue. Model parameters were systematically varied one at a time and the effect this had on the peak vertical ground reaction force and segment kinematics was examined. Model output showed low sensitivity to most model parameters but was sensitive to the timing of joint torque initiation. Varying the heel pad stiffness in the range of stiffness values reported in the literature had the largest influence on peak vertical ground reaction force. The analysis indicated that the more proximal body segments had a lower influence on peak vertical ground reaction force per unit mass than the segments nearer the contact point. Model simulations were relatively insensitive to variations in the properties of the connection between wobbling masses and the skeleton. If the goal is to examine the effects of wobbling mass on the system, this insensitivity is an advantage, with the proviso that estimates for the other model parameters and joint torque activation timings lie in a realistic range. If precise knowledge about the motion of the wobbling mass is of interest, however, this calls for more experimental work to precisely determine these model parameters.

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Yoichi Iino, Atsushi Fukushima and Takeji Kojima

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relevance of hip joint angles to the production of the pelvic rotation torque in fast-pitch softball hitting and to examine the effect of ball height on this production. Thirteen advanced female softball players hit stationary balls at three different heights: high, middle, and low. The pelvic rotation torque, defined as the torque acting on the pelvis through the hip joints about the pelvic superior–inferior axis, was determined from the kinematic and force plate data using inverse dynamics. Irrespective of the ball heights, the rear hip extension, rear hip external rotation, front hip adduction, and front hip flexion torques contributed to the production of pelvic rotation torque. Although the contributions of the adduction and external rotation torques at each hip joint were significantly different among the ball heights, the contributions of the front and rear hip joint torques were similar among the three ball heights owing to cancelation of the two torque components. The timings of the peaks of the hip joint torque components were significantly different, suggesting that softball hitters may need to adjust the timings of the torque exertions fairly precisely to rotate the upper body effectively.

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Maurice R. Yeadon and Grant Trewartha

The goal of this study was to investigate the control strategy employed by gymnasts in maintaining a hand balance. It was hypothesized that a “wrist strategy” was used in which perturbations in the sagittal plane were corrected using variations in wrist flexor torque with synergistic shoulder and hip torques acting to preserve a fixed body configuration. A theoretical model of wrist strategy indicated that control could be effected using wrist torque that was a linear function of mass center displacement and velocity. Four male gymnasts executed hand balances and 2-dimensional inverse dynamics was used to determine net joint torque time histories at the wrist, shoulder, and hip joints in the sagittal plane. Wrist torque was regressed against mass center position and velocity values at progressively earlier times. It was found that all gymnasts used the wrist strategy, with time delays ranging from 160 to 240 ms. The net joint torques at the shoulder and hip joints were regressed against the torques required to maintain a fixed configuration. This fixed configuration strategy accounted for 86% of the variance in the shoulder torque and 86% of the variance in the hip torque although the actual torques exceeded the predicted torques by 7% and 30%, respectively. The estimated time delays are consistent with the use of long latency reflexes, whereas the role of vestibular and visual information in maintaining a hand balance is less certain.

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Mark A. King and Maurice R. Yeadon

This paper describes a method for defining the maximum torque that can be produced at a joint from isovelocity torque measurements on an individual. The method is applied to an elite male gymnast in order to calculate subject-specific joint torque parameters for the knee joint. Isovelocity knee extension torque data were collected for the gymnast using a two-repetition concentric-eccentric protocol over a 75° range of crank motion at preset crank angular velocities ranging from 20 to 250°s–1. During these isovelocity movements, differences of up to 35° were found between the angle of the dynamometer crank and the knee joint angle of the participant. In addition, faster preset crank angular velocities gave smaller ranges of isovelocity motion for both the crank and joint. The simulation of an isovelocity movement at a joint angular velocity of 150°s–1 showed that, for realistic series elastic component extensions, the angular velocity of the joint can be assumed to be the same as the angular velocity of the contractile component during most of the isovelocity trial. Fitting an 18-parameter exponential function to experimental isovelocity joint torque/ angle/ angular velocity data resulted in a surface that was well behaved over the complete range of angular velocities and within the specified range of joint angles used to calculate the surface.

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Robert Tibold, Gabor Fazekas and Jozsef Laczko

A three-dimensional (3-D) arm movement model is presented to simulate kinematic properties and muscle forces in reaching arm movements. Healthy subjects performed reaching movements repetitively either with or without a load in the hand. Joint coordinates were measured. Muscle moment arms, 3-D angular acceleration, and moment of inertias of arm segments were calculated to determine 3-D joint torques. Variances of hand position, arm configuration, and muscle activities were calculated. Ratios of movement variances observed in the two conditions (load versus without load) showed no differences for hand position and arm configuration variances. Virtual muscle force variances for all muscles except deltoid posterior and EMG variances for four muscles increased significantly by moving with the load. The greatly increased variances in muscle activity did not imply equally high increments in kinematic variances. We conclude that enhanced muscle cooperation through synergies helps to stabilize movement at the kinematic level when a load is added.