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Hamner, SR, Seth, A, and Delp, SL, Muscle contributions to propulsion and support during running. Journal of Biomechanics, doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2010.06.025 (2010)
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Muscles actuate running by developing forces that propel the body forward while supporting the body’s weight. To understand how muscles contribute to propulsion (i.e., forward acceleration of the mass center) and support (i.e., upward acceleration of the mass center) during running we developed a three- dimensional muscle-actuated simulation of the running gait cycle. The simulation is driven by 92 musculotendon actuators of the lower extremities and torso and includes the dynamics of arm motion. We analyzed the simulation to determine how each muscle contributed to the acceleration of the body mass center. During the early part of the stance phase, the quadriceps muscle group was the largest contributor to braking (i.e., backward acceleration of the mass center) and support. During the second half of the stance phase, the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles were the greatest contributors to propulsion and support. The arms did not contribute substantially to either propulsion or support, generating less than 1% of the peak mass center acceleration. However, the arms effectively counterbalanced the vertical angular momentum of the lower extremities. Our analysis reveals that the quadriceps and plantarflexors are the major contributors to acceleration of the body mass center during running.


The purpose of this study was to determine how muscles contribute to propulsion (i.e., the fore-aft acceleration) and support (i.e., the vertical acceleration) of the body mass center during running.

License: 02 Full Body Model

The purpose of this study was to determine how muscles contribute to propulsion (i.e., the fore-aft acceleration) and support (i.e., the vertical acceleration) of the body mass center during running at 3.96 m/s (6:46 min/mile), including the effects of the torso and arms. To achieve this, we developed a three-dimensional muscle-actuated simulation of running that included 92 musculotendon actuators representing 76 muscles of the lower extremities and torso. By using a three-dimensional model with lower extremity muscles, a torso, and arms, we were able to quantify the contribution of muscles and arm dynamics to mass center accelerations in three dimensions, which provided insights into the actions of muscles during running. The simulation is freely available (simtk.org) allowing other researchers to reproduce our results and perform additional analyses.

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The musculoskeletal model files (.osim), the settings files (.xml), and associated results files (.mot, .sto) are provided to reproduce the results of the simulation using OpenSim.

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