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J Biomech. 1983;16(7):523-37.

Calf muscle moment, work and efficiency in level walking; role of series elasticity.

Abstract

Moment and work of the human calf muscles in level walking were determined by means of an EMG to force processor, based on a muscle analogue (Hof and Van den Berg (1981) J. Biomechanics, 14, 747-758, 759-770, 771-785, 787-792). Nine subjects (four women, five men) walked on a level treadmill at speeds between 0.5 and 2.5 ms-1, in their self-chosen pace and at forced pace with steplengths between 0.3 and 1.1 m. The calf muscles are normally only active in the stance phase. The moment increases, with a variable course, to a peak just before push-off. This peak moment increases with the walking speed, from the reference moment (the value in standing on the toes with one leg) at zero speed, to 1.5-2.1 times this value at a speed of 2 ms-1, and decreases at still greater speeds. During the roll-over phase work is done on the calf muscles ('negative work'), followed by positive work in push-off. The negative work is constant, 0.20-0.36 J kg-1, depending on the subject. The positive work increases linearly with steplength--not with speed--from zero at ca. 0.35 m to 0.50 J kg-1 at a steplength of 1.1 m. The interaction between the contractile and the series elastic component in the muscle could be studied by means of the analogue. A great part of the work done on the muscle and of the positive work done by the contractile component are stored in the series elastic component. The stored energy is released at a high rate in push-off. This mechanism ideally requires a concerted contraction, i.e. a contraction in which the activation is matched to the load to the effect that the length of the contractile component remains constant. The muscle then behaves like a spring. Consequences are (a) only little of the negative work gets lost, (b) the length of the contractile component remains close to the optimum of the force-length relation, (c) the shortening speed of the contractile component is now in the range where the muscle works at a high efficiency, and (d) high power peaks can be delivered due to the 'catapult action'.

PMID:
6619170
DOI:
10.1016/0021-9290(83)90067-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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