A method for determining lower extremity muscle-tendon lengths during flexion/extension movements

J Biomech. 1990;23(5):487-94. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(90)90304-l.


A study was conducted to examine the relationship between muscle-tendon lengths of 16 lower extremity muscles and the flexion angle(s) of the joint(s) they cross. Anthropometric data from six subjects were obtained. Various lower extremity joint flexion angle combinations were simulated for each subject using computer software. For each simulated lower extremity position, muscle origin and insertion locations were determined based on averaged cadaveric origin/insertion information and individual anthropometric parameters. Corresponding muscle-tendon lengths were computed and normalized to segment lengths. Regression equations were derived which allow normalized muscle-tendon lengths to be estimated from known joint flexion angles. The regression equations obtained for biarticular muscles fit the data quite well giving correlation coefficients greater than 0.92. The correlation coefficients for the equations describing normalized single joint muscle-tendon lengths range from 0.77 to 0.97. The equations were then validated by comparing predicted lengths to those reported by previous investigations. Confirming the utility of the equations, the comparisons were excellent for both uniarticular and biarticular muscles. Used in conjunction with velocity data (obtained by differentiating the length data) and electromyogram recordings, these equations enable a detailed analysis of muscle function.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Joints / anatomy & histology
  • Joints / physiology
  • Leg / anatomy & histology
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Mathematical Computing
  • Movement / physiology
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Reference Values
  • Regression Analysis
  • Software
  • Tendons / anatomy & histology*