Sensitivity of Predicted Muscle Forces to Parameters of the Optimization-Based Human Leg Model Revealed by Analytical and Numerical Analyses

J Biomech. 2001 Oct;34(10):1243-55. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(01)00097-5.


There are different opinions in the literature on whether the cost functions: the sum of muscle stresses squared and the sum of muscle stresses cubed, can reasonably predict muscle forces in humans. One potential reason for the discrepancy in the results could be that different authors use different sets of model parameters which could substantially affect forces predicted by optimization-based models. In this study, the sensitivity of the optimal solution obtained by minimizing the above cost functions for a planar three degrees-of-freedom (DOF) model of the leg with nine muscles was investigated analytically for the quadratic function and numerically for the cubic function. Analytical results revealed that, generally, the non-zero optimal force of each muscle depends in a very complex non-linear way on moments at all three joints and moment arms and physiological cross-sectional areas (PCSAs) of all muscles. Deviations of the model parameters (moment arms and PCSAs) from their nominal values within a physiologically feasible range affected not only the magnitude of the forces predicted by both criteria, but also the number of non-zero forces in the optimal solution and the combination of muscles with non-zero predicted forces. Muscle force magnitudes calculated by both criteria were similar. They could change several times as model parameters changed, whereas patterns of muscle forces were typically not as sensitive. It is concluded that different opinions in the literature about the behavior of optimization-based models can be potentially explained by differences in employed model parameters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology
  • Leg / anatomy & histology
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stress, Mechanical