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J Morphol. 1996 Oct;230(1):69-77.

Relationships between range of motion, lo, and passive force in five strap-like muscles of the feline hind limb.

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MRC Group in Sensory-Motor Neuroscience, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


The relationships between range of motion, optimal length for force production (lo), and passive force provide useful insights into the structure and function of muscles but are unknown for most individual muscles. We measured these values and examined their relationships in five strap-like muscles of the cat hind limb: caudofemoralis, semitendinosus, sartorius anterior, tenuissimus, and biceps femoris anterior. The range of motion relative to lo was found to vary significantly between different muscles and even between different specimens of the same muscle. The passive force-length (FL) curve was found to be correlated with both lo and lmax (maximal in situ muscle length) but was correlated more strongly with lmax. The mean passive force produced by these muscles at lmax was less than 7% of estimated maximal isometric force, suggesting that passive force may not be important in these muscles during normal activation patterns. The variance in passive FL curves between specimens of the same muscle was found to be significantly lower when length was scaled by lmax as opposed to lo. These results suggest that lmax may provide a more useful scaling factor for generic models of muscle. However, the passive length-tension properties of mammalian muscle appear to reflect a complex mix of structures at both the myofilament and connective tissue levels that may differ depending on muscle-fiber architecture and perhaps on the history of trophic influences on a particular specimen.

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