The anatomical arrangement of muscle and tendon enhances limb versatility and locomotor performance

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 May 27;366(1570):1540-53. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0361.


The arrangement of muscles and tendons has been studied in detail by anatomists, surgeons and biomechanists for over a century, and the energetics and mechanics of muscle contraction for almost as long. Investigation of how muscles function during locomotion and the relative length change in muscle fibres and the associated elastic tendon has, however, been more challenging. In recent years, novel in vivo measurement methods such as ultrasound and sonomicrometry have contributed to our understanding of the dynamics of the muscle tendon unit during locomotion. Here, we examine both published and new data to explore how muscles are arranged to deliver the wide repertoire of locomotor function and the trade-offs between performance and economy that result.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elasticity
  • Extremities / anatomy & histology
  • Extremities / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Tendons / anatomy & histology*
  • Tendons / physiology*