Skeletal muscle design to meet functional demands

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 May 27;366(1570):1466-76. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0316.


Skeletal muscles are length- and velocity-sensitive force producers, constructed of a vast array of sarcomeres. Muscles come in a variety of sizes and shapes to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. How does muscle design match task performance? In this review, we outline muscle's basic properties and strategies that are used to produce movement. Several examples are provided, primarily for human muscles, in which skeletal muscle architecture and moment arms are tailored to a particular performance requirement. In addition, the concept that muscles may have a preferred sarcomere length operating range is also introduced. Taken together, the case is made that muscles can be fine-tuned to perform specific tasks that require actuators with a wide range of properties.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Sarcomeres / physiology*
  • Sarcomeres / ultrastructure