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J Biomech. 2004 Jul;37(7):1011-8.

Gear ratios at the limb joints of jumping dogs.

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Department of Biology, University of Utah, 257 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0840, USA.


An increase in gear ratio of the limb extensor muscles during joint extension has been suggested to be a mechanism that facilitates optimal power production by skeletal muscles. The objectives of this study were to: (1) measure gear ratios at the wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee, and hip joints of jumping dogs, (2) compute the work performed by each of these joints, and (3) measure muscle shortening velocity for a joint exhibiting an increasing gear ratio during joint extension. The gear ratio out-lever was computed by dividing the ground reaction force (GRF) moment by the GRF, whereas the in-lever was directly measured as the perpendicular distance from the joint center to the line of action of the extensor muscle. In addition, changes in fascicle length were measured from the vastus lateralis muscle using sonomicrometry. Of the joints examined, only the gear ratios at the shoulder and knee joints increased during jumping in a manner that could facilitate peak power production of actively shortening muscles. The vastus lateralis was found to shorten at an average velocity of 3.20 muscle lengths per second. This is similar to estimates of shortening velocity that produce peak muscular power in mammals the size of dogs. Additionally, the knee extensors were found to produce a large proportion (26.6%) of the positive external work of the limbs. These observations suggest that dynamic gearing in jumping dogs may allow the extensor muscles of the knee joint to shorten in a way that maximizes their power production.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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