Mechanical demand and multijoint control during landing depend on orientation of the body segments relative to the reaction force

J Biomech. 2001 Nov;34(11):1471-82. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(01)00110-5.


The purpose of this study was to determine how diverse momentum conditions and anatomical orientation at contact influences mechanical loading and multijoint control of the reaction force during landings. Male collegiate gymnasts (n=6) performed competition style landings (n=3) of drop jumps, front saltos, and back saltos from a platform (0.72 m) onto landing mats (0.12 m). Kinematics (200 fps), reaction forces (800 Hz) and muscle activation patterns (surface EMG, 1600 Hz) of seven lower extremity muscles were collected simultaneously. Between-task differences in segment orientation relative to the reaction force contributed to significant between-task differences in knee and hip net joint moments (NJM) during the impact phase. During the stabilization phase, ankle, knee, and hip NJMs acted to control joint flexion. Between-task differences in muscle activation patterns indicated that gymnasts scaled biarticular muscle activation to accommodate for between-task differences in NJM after contact. Activation of muscles on both sides of the joint suggests that impedance like control was used to stabilize the joints and satisfy the mechanical demand imposed on the lower extremity. Between-subject differences in the set of muscles used to control total body center of mass (TBCM) trajectory and achieve lower extremity NJMs suggests that control of multijoint movements involving impact needs to incorporate mechanical objectives at both the total body and local level. The functional consequences of such a control structure may prove to be an asset to gymnasts, particularly when required to perform a variety of landing tasks under a variety of environmental constraints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Gymnastics / physiology*
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology*
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Video Recording