The forces generated at the human elbow joint in response to imposed sinusoidal movements of the forearm

J Physiol. 1974 Jul;240(2):351-74. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1974.sp010614.


1. The mechanical resistance of the human forearm has been measured during imposed sinusoidal flexion-extension movements of the elbow joint.2. The force required to move the limb can be divided into components required to move the mass, and components required to overcome the resistance offered by elastic and frictional properties of the muscles and other soft tissues.3. When during a vigorous flexing effort the limb was subjected to a small amplitude sinusoidal movement each extension was followed by a considerable reflex contraction of the flexor muscles. At low frequencies of movement this reflex provided an added resistance to extension, but at 8-12 Hz the delay in the reflex pathway was such that the reflex response to extension occurred after the extension phase of the movement was over and during the subsequent flexion movement. The reflex activity then assisted the movement whereas at other frequencies it impeded it.4. The reflex response to movement increased as the subject exerted a greater flexing force.5. Small movements generated a relatively larger reflex response than big ones.6. Even with large amplitudes of movement when the reflex activity was relatively small, the limb resisted extension with a high level of stiffness; this was comparable with the short range stiffness of muscles in experimental animals.7. The fact that at some frequencies the reflex response assisted the movement implies that with appropriate loading the limb could undergo a self-sustaining oscillation at those frequencies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elasticity
  • Elbow / physiology*
  • Energy Transfer
  • Female
  • Forearm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Physical Exertion
  • Reflex