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J Biomech. 2008;41(8):1682-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.03.008. Epub 2008 May 5.

Evaluation of different analytical methods for subject-specific scaling of musculotendon parameters.

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  • 1School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6907, Australia.


Musculoskeletal models are often used to estimate internal muscle forces and the effects of those forces on the development of human movement. The Hill-type muscle model is an important component of many of these models, yet it requires specific knowledge of several muscle and tendon properties. These include the optimal muscle fibre length, the length at which the muscle can generate maximum force, and the tendon slack length, the length at which the tendon starts to generate a resistive force to stretch. Both of these parameters greatly influence the force-generating behaviour of a musculotendon unit and vary with the size of the person. However, these are difficult to measure directly and are often estimated using the results of cadaver studies, which do not account for differences in subject size. This paper examined several different techniques that can be used to scale the optimal muscle fibre length and tendon slack length of a musculotendon unit according to subject size. The techniques were divided into three categories corresponding to linear scaling, scaling by maintaining a constant tendon slack length throughout the range of joint motion, and scaling by maintaining muscle operating range throughout the range of joint motion. We suggest that a good rationale for scaling muscle properties should be to maintain the same force-generating characteristics of a musculotendon unit for all subjects, which is best achieved by scaling that preserves the muscle operating range when the muscle is maximally activated.

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