Contributions of muscles, ligaments, and the ground-reaction force to tibiofemoral joint loading during normal gait

J Orthop Res. 2006 Oct;24(10):1983-90. doi: 10.1002/jor.20255.


The aim of this study was twofold: first, to determine which muscles and ligaments resist the adduction moment at the knee during normal walking; and second, to describe and explain the contributions of muscles, ligaments, and the ground reaction force to medial and lateral compartment loading. Muscle forces, ground reaction forces, and joint motions obtained from a dynamic optimization solution for normal walking were used as input to a three-dimensional model of the lower limb. A static equilibrium problem was solved at each instant of the gait cycle to determine tibiofemoral joint loading at the knee. Medial compartment loading was determined mainly by the orientation of the ground reaction force. Because this force vector passed medial to the knee, it applied an adduction moment about the joint during stance. In contrast, all of the force transmitted by the lateral compartment was due to muscle and ligament action. The muscles that contributed most to support and forward propulsion during normal walking (quadriceps and gastrocnemius) also contributed most to knee stability in the frontal plane. The knee ligaments, particularly those of the posterior lateral corner, provided stability to the knee at certain periods of the stance phase, when activity of the important stabilizing muscles was low.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Walking / physiology