In vivo biomechanics of the fingerpad skin under local tangential traction

J Biomech. 2007;40(4):851-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2006.03.004. Epub 2006 May 8.


Small patches of fingerpad glabrous skin in human subjects were tested in vivo for their biomechanical properties under tangential loading and for large deformations. These conditions included stretching and shearing the skin at a length scale of 0.3mm using an apparatus comprising a pair of piezoelectric benders arranged to increase the stiffness/free deflection tradeoff when compared to ordinary cantilevered benders. It was then possible to test the skin with up to 80% of tangential strain. With feedback control, it was also possible to create isotonic and isometric testing conditions. The results showed much variability across subjects and it was seen that the glabrous skin exhibited nonlinear stiffening in tangential traction. The skin was consistently more elastic across the ridges than along the ridges regardless of the location of the sample on the fingerpad. The skin behaved visco-elastically but relaxed about twice as fast than it crept. Finally, it was found that under large deformation, there was consistently 80% of hysteretic loss for a wide range of loading conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Traction*