Moment arms of the human neck muscles in flexion, bending and rotation

J Biomech. 2011 Feb 3;44(3):475-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.09.036. Epub 2010 Nov 11.


There is a paucity of data available for the moment arms of the muscles of the human neck. The objective of the present study was to measure the moment arms of the major cervical spine muscles in vitro. Experiments were performed on five fresh-frozen human head-neck specimens using a custom-designed robotic spine testing apparatus. The testing apparatus replicated flexion-extension, lateral bending and axial rotation of each individual intervertebral joint in the cervical spine while all other joints were kept immobile. The tendon excursion method was used to measure the moment arms of 30 muscle sub-regions involving 13 major muscles of the neck about all three axes of rotation of each joint for the neutral position of the cervical spine. Significant differences in the moment arm were observed across sub-regions of individual muscles and across the intervertebral joints spanned by each muscle (p<0.05). Overall, muscle moment arms were larger in flexion-extension and lateral bending than in axial rotation, and most muscles had prominent moment arms in at least 2 out of the 3 joint motions investigated. This study emphasizes the importance of detailed representation of a muscle's architecture in prediction of its torque capacity about the individual joints of the cervical spine. The dataset produced may be useful in developing and validating computational models of the human neck.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cadaver
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neck Muscles / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Spine / physiology