Knee and hip joint forces--sensitivity to the degrees of freedom classification at the knee

Proc Inst Mech Eng H. 2011 Jun;225(6):621-6. doi: 10.1177/0954411911399975.


Previous research has demonstrated that the number of degrees of freedom (DOF) modelled at a given joint affects the antagonistic muscle activity predicted by inverse dynamics optimization techniques. This higher level of muscle activity in turn results in greater joint contact forces. For instance, modelling the knee as a 3 DOF joint has been shown to result in higher hip and knee joint forces commensurate with a higher level of muscular activity than when the knee is modelled with 1 DOF. In this study, a previously described musculoskeletal model of the lower limb was used to evaluate the sensitivity of the knee and hip joint contact forces to the DOF at the knee during vertical jumping in both a 1 and a 3 DOF knee model. The 3 DOF knee was found to predict higher tibiofemoral and hip joint contact forces and lower patellofemoral joint contact forces. The magnitude of the difference in hip contact force was at least as significant as that found in previous research exploring the effect of subject-specific hip geometry on hip contact force. This study therefore demonstrates a key sensitivity of knee and hip joint contact force calculations to the DOF at the knee. Finally, it is argued that the results of this study highlight an important physiological question with practical implications for the loading of the structures of the knee; that is, the relative interaction of muscular, ligamentous, and articular structures in creating moment equilibrium at the knee.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Movement
  • Musculoskeletal Physiological Phenomena*