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Edith M. Arnold, Samuel R. Hamner, Ajay Seth, Matthew Millard and Scott L. Delp. "How muscle fiber lengths and velocities affect muscle force generation as humans walk and run at different speeds" The Journal of Experimental Biology 216, 2150-2160 © 2013. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd doi:10.1242/jeb.075697 (2013)  View

The lengths and velocities of muscle fibers have a dramatic effect on muscle force generation. It is unknown, however, whether the lengths and velocities of lower limb muscle fibers substantially affect the ability of muscles to generate force during walking and running. We examined this issue by developing simulations of muscle–tendon dynamics to calculate the lengths and velocities of muscle fibers from electromyographic recordings of 11 lower limb muscles and kinematic measurements of the hip, knee and ankle made as five subjects walked at speeds of 1.0–1.75ms–1 and ran at speeds of 2.0–5.0ms–1. We analyzed the simulated fiber lengths, fiber velocities and forces to evaluate the influence of force–length and force–velocity properties on force generation at different walking and running speeds. The simulations revealed that force generation ability (i.e. the force generated per unit of activation) of eight of the 11 muscles was significantly affected by walking or running speed. Soleus force generation ability decreased with increasing walking speed, but the transition from walking to running increased the force generation ability by reducing fiber velocities. Our results demonstrate the influence of soleus muscle architecture on the walk-to-run transition and the effects of muscle–tendon compliance on the plantarflexorsʼ ability to generate ankle moment and power. The study presents data that permit lower limb muscles to be studied in unprecedented detail by relating muscle fiber dynamics and force generation to the mechanical demands of walking and running.

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