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J Biomech. 2004 Apr;37(4):577-81.

Extension of a state-of-the-art optimization criterion to predict co-contraction.

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Institute of Orthopaedics Research and Biomechanics, University of Ulm, Germany.


Most studies concerned with the prediction of muscle forces have tried to predict a physiologically reasonable, synergistic muscle behavior. In addition to the load sharing of synergistic muscles, co-contraction of antagonistic muscles also occurs. An extension to a standard quadratic criterion for the calculation of muscle forces is presented in this study. This extension however is not limited to quadratic optimization. The extension is applied to a planar, one degree of freedom model of the human knee. For this model an analytical solution is presented. With the extended criterion it was possible to predict and control the amount of co-contraction for the knee model. The enforced antagonistic muscle activity led to higher agonistic muscle activity. In the absence of an external load flexor and extensor muscles were activated. As a consequence the knee joint was preloaded. This might indicate that antagonistic muscle activity is generated to maintain or improve joint stability. In conclusion, this study presents a novel approach to predict co-contraction when using optimization techniques to determine muscle forces by introducing a shift parameter for the optimization criterion.

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