The distal hindlimb musculature of the cat: multiaxis moment arms at the ankle joint

Exp Brain Res. 1993;96(1):141-51. doi: 10.1007/BF00230447.


The cat hindlimb muscles have been classified, traditionally, as flexors and extensors, based on their actions in the parasagittal plane and their patterns of recruitment during locomotion and reflex responses. This study provides a detailed examination of the relative magnitudes of the various moment arms of the cat ankle muscles and the interdependent effects of position in the various axes of motion. We used a method based on observing small sliding movements of tendon in response to small angular displacements of the joint. Surprisingly, we found that the ankle joint of the cat permits substantial motion in three axes (eversion/inversion and abduction/adduction as well as extension/flexion) and many muscles crossing the ankle joint have their largest moment arms about axes other than extension/flexion. These moment arms often depended on the joint position in the axis of the moment arm and, to a lesser degree, on the extension/flexion angle as well. For some muscles (notably peroneus longus) there was sufficient variability that the predominant action in neutral posture (axis with the largest moment arm) could change from animal to animal, which may be related to heterogeneities of locomotor and reflex recruitment reported in the companion paper.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Female
  • Hindlimb / anatomy & histology
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Tarsus, Animal / anatomy & histology
  • Tarsus, Animal / physiology*