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Zoology (Jena). 2007;110(1):28-40. Epub 2006 Dec 19.

The role of hind limb flexor muscles during swimming in the toad, Bufo marinus.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA 01075, USA. ggillis@mtholyoke.edu

Abstract

Most work examining muscle function during anuran locomotion has focused largely on the roles of major hind limb extensors during jumping and swimming. Nevertheless, the recovery phase of anuran locomotion likely plays a critical role in locomotor performance, especially in the aquatic environment, where flexing limbs can increase drag on the swimming animal. In this study, I use kinematic and electromyographic analyses to explore the roles of four anatomical flexor muscles in the hind limb of Bufo marinus during swimming: m. iliacus externus, a hip flexor; mm. iliofibularis and semitendinosus, knee flexors; and m. tibialis anticus longus, an ankle flexor. Two general questions are addressed: (1) What role, if any, do these flexors play during limb extension? and (2) How do limb flexors control limb flexion? Musculus iliacus externus exhibits a large burst of EMG activity early in limb extension and shows low levels of activity during recovery. Both m. iliofibularis and m. semitendinosus are biphasically active, with relatively short but intense bursts during limb extension followed by longer and typically weaker secondary bursts during recovery. Musculus tibialis anticus longus becomes active mid way through recovery and remains active through the start of extension in the next stroke. In conclusion, flexors at all three joints exhibit some activity during limb extension, indicating that they play a role in mediating limb movements during propulsion. Further, recovery is controlled by a complex pattern of flexor activation timing, but muscle intensities are generally lower, suggesting relatively low force requirements during this phase of swimming.

PMID:
17182235
DOI:
10.1016/j.zool.2006.08.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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