An intrinsic mechanism to stabilize posture--joint-angle-dependent moment arms of the feline ankle muscles

Neurosci Lett. 1992 Oct 12;145(2):137-40. doi: 10.1016/0304-3940(92)90005-r.


The neuromuscular system can use sensory feedback to regulate motion, but these feedback loops involve relatively long delays (50-100 ms) and may produce undesirable oscillations. However, stabilizing changes in muscle force can also be provided intrinsically (i.e. without feedback) by 2 properties of the muscle itself, its force-length and force-velocity relationships. We have discovered another intrinsically stabilizing mechanism in the musculoskeletal architecture of the cat ankle joint. Many of its muscles have their predominant moment arms about the adduction/abduction axis, with smaller moment arms for inversion/eversion and about the principal axis of motion, dorsiflexion/extension. The magnitudes of the moment arms in ab/adduction and in/eversion depend strongly on joint angle, increasing for positions away from neutral that lengthen the muscles. Thus, co-activation of agonist-antagonist pairs, known to occur in these muscles, would provide immediate stabilizing changes in torque when the ankle is perturbed away from neutral position.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Tarsus, Animal / anatomy & histology
  • Tarsus, Animal / physiology*
  • Tendons / physiology