Longer moment arm results in smaller joint moment development, power and work outputs in fast motions

J Biomech. 2003 Nov;36(11):1675-81. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(03)00171-4.


Effects of moment arm length on kinetic outputs of a musculoskeletal system (muscle force development, joint moment development, joint power output and joint work output) were evaluated using computer simulation. A skeletal system of the human ankle joint was constructed: a lower leg segment and a foot segment were connected with a hinge joint. A Hill-type model of the musculus soleus (m. soleus), consisting of a contractile element and a series elastic element, was attached to the skeletal system. The model of the m. soleus was maximally activated, while the ankle joint was plantarflexed/dorsiflexed at a variation of constant angular velocities, simulating isokinetic exercises on a muscle testing machine. Profiles of the kinetic outputs (muscle force development, joint moment development, joint power output and joint work output) were obtained. Thereafter, the location of the insertion of the m. soleus was shifted toward the dorsal/ventral direction by 1cm, which had an effect of lengthening/shortening the moment arm length, respectively. The kinetic outputs of the musculoskeletal system during the simulated isokinetic exercises were evaluated with these longer/shorter moment arm lengths. It was found that longer moment arm resulted in smaller joint moment development, smaller joint power output and smaller joint work output in the larger plantarflexion angular velocity region (>120 degrees/s). This is because larger muscle shortening velocity was required with longer moment arm to achieve a certain joint angular velocity. Larger muscle shortening velocity resulted in smaller muscle force development because of the force-velocity relation of the muscle. It was suggested that this phenomenon should be taken into consideration when investigating the joint moment-joint angle and/or joint moment-joint angular velocity characteristics of experimental data.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Energy Transfer / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Task Performance and Analysis