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Fabien Dal Maso, Mickaël Begon and Maxime Raison

One approach to increasing the confidence of muscle force estimation via musculoskeletal models is to minimize the root mean square error (RMSE) between joint torques estimated from electromyographic-driven musculoskeletal models and those computed using inverse dynamics. We propose a method that reduces RMSE by selecting subsets of combinations of maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) trials that minimize RMSE. Twelve participants performed 3 elbow MVIC in flexion and in extension. An upper-limb electromyographic-driven musculoskeletal model was created to optimize maximum muscle stress and estimate the maximal isometric force of the biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, and triceps brachii. Maximal isometric forces were computed from all possible combinations of flexion-extension trials. The combinations producing the smallest RMSE significantly reduced the normalized RMSE to 7.4% compared with the combination containing all trials (9.0%). Maximal isometric forces ranged between 114–806 N, 64–409 N, 236–1511 N, and 556–3434 N for the brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis, and triceps brachii, respectively. These large variations suggest that customization is required to reduce the difference between models and actual participants’ maximal isometric force. While the smallest previously reported RMSE was 10.3%, the proposed method reduced the RMSE to 7.4%, which may increase the confidence of muscle force estimation.

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Mont Hubbard, Robin L. Hibbard, Maurice R. Yeadon and Andrzej Komor

This paper presents a planar, four-segment, dynamic model for the flight mechanics of a ski jumper. The model consists of skis, legs, torso and head, and arms. Inputs include net joint torques that are used to vary the relative body configurations of the jumper during flight. The model also relies on aerodynamic data from previous wind tunnel tests that incorporate the effects of varying body configuration and orientation on lift, drag, and pitching moment. A symbolic manipulation program, “Macsyma,” is used to derive the equations of motion automatically. Experimental body segment orientation data during the flight phase are presented for three ski jumpers which show how jumpers of varying ability differ in flight and demonstrate the need for a more complex analytical model than that previously presented in the literature. Simulations are presented that qualitatively match the measured trajectory for a good jumper. The model can be used as a basis for the study of optimal jumper behavior in flight which maximizes jump distance.

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John H. Lawrence III and T. Richard Nichols

Muscle actions are often defined with respect to a single anatomical reference plane based on a “predominant” functional activity. Yet animals must control posture and movement within a three-dimensional (3-D) environment, exerting control over more than one reference plane when responding to a 3-D array of perturbing forces. Consequently, enhanced knowledge concerning the 3-D torque capabilities of certain appendicular muscles might provide for greater understanding of the biomechanical basis for motor control. We propose that the cat postural control mechanism utilizes the inherent 3-D mechanical actions of ankle flexors and extensors to maintain extra-saggital joint stiffness. We used a 6 degree-of-freedom force-moment sensor to assess the effect of ankle joint orientation on the 3-D nature of isometric joint torques evoked by electrical stimulation of muscles crossing the AJC in the deeply anesthetized cat. An orthogonal axis system was established at the designated ankle rotation center, such that pitch (defining flexion-extension), yaw (abduction-adduction), and roll (inversion-eversion) axis torques were calculated. Experimental results show that the classical cat ankle flexor and extensors evoke large extra-sagittal torques as well. Also, the hind limb levering system stabilizes the AJC against large yaw and roll rotations away from the control position.

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Michael L. Madigan

The purpose of this study was to investigate agerelated differences in muscle power during a surrogate task of trip recovery. Participants included 10 healthy young men (19–23 years old) and 10 healthy older men (65–83). The task involved releasing participants from a forward-leaning posture. After release, participants attempted to recover their balance using a single step of the right foot. Muscle power at the hip, knee, and ankle of the stepping limb were determined from the product of joint angular velocity and joint torque. Muscle powers during balance recovery followed a relatively consistent pattern in both young and older men, and showed effects of both lean and age. Interestingly, the effects of age did not always involve smaller peak power values in the older men as expected from the well-documented loss of muscle power with aging. Older men exhibited smaller peak muscle power at the knee and larger peak muscle power at the ankle and hip compared to young men. The increases in muscle power at the ankle and hip may result from a neuromuscular adaptation aimed at improving balance recovery ability by compensating for the age-related loss of muscle function.

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Taku Wakahara, Hiroaki Kanehisa, Yasuo Kawakami, Tetsuo Fukunaga and Toshimasa Yanai

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between muscle architecture of the triceps brachii (TB) and joint performance during concentric elbow extensions. Twenty-two men performed maximal isometric and concentric elbow extensions against various loads. Joint torque and angular velocity during concentric contractions were measured, and joint power was calculated. Muscle length, cross-sectional areas, and volume of TB were measured from magnetic resonance images. Pennation angle (PA) of TB at rest was determined by ultrasonography. The PA was significantly correlated with the maximal isometric torque (r = .471), but not to the torque normalized by muscle volume (r = .312). A significant correlation was found between PA and the angular velocity at 0 kg load (r = .563), even when the angular velocity was normalized by the muscle length (r = .536). The PA was significantly correlated with the maximal joint power (r = .519), but not with the power normalized by muscle volume (r = .393). These results suggest that PA has a positive influence on the muscle shortening velocity during an unloaded movement, but does not have a significant influence on the maximum power generation in untrained men.

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Stephanie E. Forrester and Matthew T.G. Pain

This study aimed to identify areas of reduced surface EMG amplitude and changed frequency across the phase space of a maximal dynamic knee extension task. The hypotheses were that (1) amplitude would be lower for eccentric contractions compared with concentric contractions and unaffected by fiber length and (2) mean frequency would also be lower for eccentric contractions and unaffected by fiber length. Joint torque and EMG signals from the vasti and rectus femoris were recorded for eight athletic subjects performing maximum knee extensions at 13 preset crank velocities spanning ±300°⋅s−1. The instantaneous amplitude and mean frequency were calculated using the continuous wavelet transform time–frequency method, and the fiber dynamics were determined using a muscle model of the knee extensions. The results indicated that (1) only for the rectus femoris were amplitudes significantly lower for eccentric contractions (p = .019) and, for the vasti, amplitudes during eccentric contractions were less than maximal but this was also the case for concentric contractions due to a significant reduction in amplitude toward knee extension (p = .023), and (2) mean frequency increased significantly with decreasing fiber length for all knee extensors and contraction velocities (p = .029). Using time–frequency processing of the EMG signals and a muscle model allowed the simultaneous assessment of fiber length, velocity, and EMG.

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Julien Jacquier-Bret, Arnaud Faupin, Nasser Rezzoug and Philippe Gorce

The aim of this study was to propose a new index called Postural Force Production Index (PFPI) for evaluating the force production during handcycling. For a given posture, it assesses the force generation capacity in all Cartesian directions by linking the joint configuration to the effective force applied on the handgrips. Its purpose is to give insight into the force pattern of handcycling users, and could be used as ergonomic index. The PFPI is based on the force ellipsoid, which belongs to the class of manipulability indices and represents the overall force production capabilities at the hand in all Cartesian directions from unit joint torques. The kinematics and kinetics of the arm were recorded during a 1-min exercise test on a handcycle at 70 revolutions per minute performed by one paraplegic expert in handcycling. The PFPI values were compared with the Fraction Effective Force (FEF), which is classically associated with the effectiveness of force application. The results showed a correspondence in the propulsion cycle between FEF peaks and the most favorable postures to produce a force tangential to the crank rotation (PFPI). This preliminary study opens a promising way to study patterns of force production in the framework of handcycling movement analysis.

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Hans H.C.M. Savelberg, Ingrid G.L. Van de Port and Paul J.B. Willems

By manipulating trunk angle in ergometer cycling, we studied the effect of body configuration on muscle recruitment and joint kinematics. Changing trunk angle affects the length of muscles that span the hip joint. It is hypothesized that this affects the recruitment of the muscles directly involved, and as a consequence of affected joint torque distributions, also influences the recruitment of more distal muscles and the kinematics of distal joints. It was found that changing the trunk from an upright position to approximately 20 deg forward or backward affected muscle activation patterns and kinematics in the entire lower limb. The knee joint was the only joint not affected by manipulation of the lengths of hip joint muscles. Changes in trunk angle affected ankle and hip joint kinematics and the orientation of the thigh. A similar pattern has been demonstrated for muscle activity: Both the muscles that span the hip joint and those acting on the ankle joint were affected with respect to timing and amplitude of EMG. Moreover, it was found that the association between muscle activity and muscle length was adapted to manipulation of trunk angle. In all three conditions, most of the muscles that were considered displayed some eccentric activity. The ratio of eccentric to concentric activity changed with trunk angle. The present study showed that trunk angle influences muscle recruitment and (inter)muscular dynamics in the entire limb. As this will have consequences for the efficiency of cycling, body configuration should be a factor in bicycle design.

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Scott R. Brown, Matt Brughelli, Peter C. Griffiths and John B. Cronin

Purpose:

While several studies have documented isokinetic knee strength in junior and senior rugby league players, investigations of isokinetic knee and hip strength in professional rugby union players are limited. The purpose of this study was to provide lower-extremity strength profiles and compare isokinetic knee and hip strength of professional rugby league and rugby union players.

Participants:

32 professional rugby league and 25 professional rugby union players.

Methods:

Cross-sectional analysis. Isokinetic dynamometry was used to evaluate peak torque and strength ratios of the dominant and nondominant legs during seated knee-extension/flexion and supine hip-extension/flexion actions at 60°/s.

Results:

Forwards from both codes were taller and heavier and had a higher body-mass index than the backs of each code. Rugby union forwards produced significantly (P < .05) greater peak torque during knee flexion in the dominant and nondominant legs (ES = 1.81 and 2.02) compared with rugby league forwards. Rugby league backs produced significantly greater hip-extension peak torque in the dominant and nondominant legs (ES = 0.83 and 0.77) compared with rugby union backs. There were no significant differences in hamstring-to-quadriceps ratios between code, position, or leg. Rugby union forwards and backs produced significantly greater knee-flexion-to-hip-extension ratios in the dominant and nondominant legs (ES = 1.49–2.26) than rugby union players.

Conclusions:

It seems that the joint torque profiles of players from rugby league and union codes differ, which may be attributed to the different demands of each code.

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Michael J. Hiley and Maurice R. Yeadon

The undersomersault, or felge, to handstand on parallel bars has become an important skill in Men’s Artistic Gymnastics as it forms the basis of many complex variations. To receive no deductions from the judges, the undersomersault must be performed without demonstrating the use of strength to achieve the final handstand position. Two male gymnasts each performed nine undersomersaults from handstand to handstand while data were recorded using an automatic motion capture system. The highest and lowest scoring trials of each gymnast, as determined by four international judges, were chosen for further analysis. Three optimization criteria were used to generate undersomersault technique during the swing phase of the skill using a computer simulation model: minimization of peak joint torques, minimization of horizontal velocity before release, and maximization of angular momentum. The techniques used by both gymnasts could be explained using the second optimization criterion which facilitated further skill development. The first optimization criterion generated a technique advocated for beginners where strength might be expected to be a limiting factor. The third optimization criterion resulted in a different type of undersomersault movement of greater difficulty according to the FIG Code of Points.