A technique for estimating mechanical work of individual muscles in the cat during treadmill locomotion

J Biomech. 1984;17(9):685-94. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(84)90122-2.


Mechanical work, the product of force and length change, was assessed in selected hindlimb extensors of two adult cats during three different speeds of unrestrained treadmill locomotion. Forces were measured using implanted transducers placed on the soleus (SOL) and medial gastrocnemius (MG) tendons. A three dimensional technique of muscle length estimation using high speed cinematography was found preferable to either two dimensional or trigonometric measurements derived from anatomical and kinematic parameters. Length excursions increased in both muscles as treadmill speed increased. However, at all speeds of locomotion, the uniarticular SOL exhibited a greater range of motion than the biarticular MG. Increases in treadmill speed resulted in higher peak forces in the MG and constant or slightly lower peak forces in the SOL. These speed-dependent changes in length and force resulted in higher total positive work, lower total negative work, and higher net work for both muscles with increasing speeds. These data illustrate the importance of three-dimensional kinematics in determining changes in muscle length and describe the relative force and work changes in a slow and fast ankle extensor with changes in speed of locomotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Weight
  • Cats
  • Female
  • Hindlimb*
  • Locomotion*
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscles / physiology*