The effective quadriceps and patellar tendon moment arms relative to the tibiofemoral finite helical axis

J Biomech. 2015 Nov 5;48(14):3737-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2015.04.003. Epub 2015 Apr 15.


The moment arm is a crucial parameter for understanding musculoskeletal dynamics as it defines how linear muscle force is transformed into a moment. Yet, for the quadriceps tendon this parameter cannot be directly calculated, as the patella creates a dynamic fulcrum. Thus, the effective quadriceps moment arm (EQma) was developed to define the quadriceps force to tibial moment relationship. In vivo data in regards to the EQma are lacking and the critical question of how patellofemoral kinematics may influence the EQma remains unresolved. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to quantify the in vivo EQma during a knee extension exercise in asymptomatic controls and to correlate the EQma with sagittal plane patellofemoral kinematics. While subjects (30F/10M, 26.5±5.6 years, 167.5±10.2 cm, 62.6±10.7 kg) cyclically flexed-extended their knees within the MR scanner, dynamic cine-phase contrast and cine MR images were acquired. From these data, patellofemoral kinematics, the ratio of the patellar tendon to quadriceps force, the patellar tendon moment arm, and the EQma were quantified. The EQma trended upwards (32.9-45.5 mm (females) and 31.5-47.1 mm (males)) as the knee angle decreased (50-10°). The quadriceps had a mechanical advantage (ratio of patellar to quadriceps tendon forces >1.0) for knee angles ≤20°. The EQma did not correlate with sagittal plane patellofemoral kinematics. As this is the first study to characterize the EQma in vivo during dynamic volitional activity, in a large group of asymptomatic controls, it can serve as a foundation for future knee joint models and to explore how pathological conditions affect the EQma.

Keywords: Dynamics; In vivo; MRI; Modeling; Muscle force; Musculoskeletal; Patellofemoral; Reliability; Torque.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Femur / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology
  • Male
  • Patella / physiology
  • Patellar Ligament / physiology*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Tibia / physiology*
  • Young Adult