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J Biomech. 2001 Aug;34(8):1085-9.

The force resulting from the action of mono- and biarticular muscles in a limb.

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  • 1Department of Medical Physiology, University of Groningen, P. O. Box 196, 9700 AD, Groningen, Netherlands.


Human and animal limbs can be modelled as a chain of segments connected at joints. For a static limb, the force exerted at the endpoint due to the force of a single muscle has been calculated. It turns out that there are marked differences in the action of mono- vs. biarticular muscles. Monoarticular muscles produce an endpoint force that is directed in the lengthwise direction of the limb, i.e. in the direction of one of the segments. The force from biarticular muscles can have a marked transverse component. The 'principal direction' of this endpoint force is also the movement direction of the endpoint which is the most favourable for the muscle to do work. The reasoning presented can explain e.g. the differences in the activity of mono- and biarticular muscles in cycling.

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