Muscle and joint function in human locomotion

Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2010 Aug 15:12:401-33. doi: 10.1146/annurev-bioeng-070909-105259.


This review describes how computational modeling can be combined with noninvasive gait measurements to describe and explain muscle and joint function in human locomotion. Five muscles--the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, vasti, soleus, and gastrocnemius--contribute most significantly to the accelerations of the center of mass in the vertical, fore-aft, and medio-lateral directions when humans walk and run at their preferred speeds. Humans choose to switch from a walk to a run at speeds near 2 m s(-1) to enhance the biomechanical performance of the ankle plantarflexors and to improve coordination of the knee and ankle muscles during stance. Muscles that do not span a joint can contribute to the contact force transmitted by that joint and therefore affect its stability. In walking, for example, uniarticular muscles that cross the hip and ankle act to create the adduction moment at the knee, thereby contributing to the contact force present in the medial compartment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology
  • Joints / physiology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Walking / physiology*