The human iliotibial band is specialized for elastic energy storage compared with the chimp fascia lata

J Exp Biol. 2015 Aug;218(Pt 15):2382-93. doi: 10.1242/jeb.117952. Epub 2015 May 29.


This study examines whether the human iliotibial band (ITB) is specialized for elastic energy storage relative to the chimpanzee fascia lata (FL). To quantify the energy storage potential of these structures, we created computer models of human and chimpanzee lower limbs based on detailed anatomical dissections. We characterized the geometry and force-length properties of the FL, tensor fascia lata (TFL) and gluteus maximus (GMax) in four chimpanzee cadavers based on measurements of muscle architecture and moment arms about the hip and knee. We used the chimp model to estimate the forces and corresponding strains in the chimp FL during bipedal walking, and compared these data with analogous estimates from a model of the human ITB, accounting for differences in body mass and lower extremity posture. We estimate that the human ITB stores 15- to 20-times more elastic energy per unit body mass and stride than the chimp FL during bipedal walking. Because chimps walk with persistent hip flexion, the TFL and portions of GMax that insert on the FL undergo smaller excursions (origin to insertion) than muscles that insert on the human ITB. Also, because a smaller fraction of GMax inserts on the chimp FL than on the human ITB, and thus its mass-normalized physiological cross-sectional area is about three times less in chimps, the chimp FL probably transmits smaller muscle forces. These data provide new evidence that the human ITB is anatomically derived compared with the chimp FL and potentially contributes to locomotor economy during bipedal locomotion.

Keywords: Chimpanzee anatomy; Elastic energy storage; Fascia; Iliotibial band; Musculoskeletal modeling.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Fascia Lata / anatomy & histology
  • Fascia Lata / physiology*
  • Hip Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Leg / anatomy & histology
  • Leg / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Pan troglodytes
  • Posture
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Walking