Does a two-element muscle model offer advantages when estimating ankle plantar flexor forces during human cycling?
ABSTRACT: Traditional Hill-type muscle models, parameterized using high-quality experimental data, are often "too weak" to reproduce the joint torques generated by healthy adults during rapid, high force tasks. This study investigated whether the failure of these models to account for different types of motor units contributes to this apparent weakness; if so, muscle-driven simulations may rely on excessively high muscle excitations to generate a given force. We ran a series of forward simulations that reproduced measured ankle mechanics during cycling at five cadences ranging from 60 to 140 RPM. We generated both "nominal" simulations, in which an abstract ankle model was actuated by a 1-element Hill-type plantar flexor with a single contractile element (CE), and "test" simulations, in which the same model was actuated by a 2-element plantar flexor with two CEs that accounted for the force-generating properties of slower and faster motor units. We varied the total excitation applied to the 2-element plantar flexor between 60 and 105% of the excitation from each nominal simulation, and we varied the amount distributed to each CE between 0 and 100% of the total. Within this test space, we identified the excitation level and distribution, at each cadence, that best reproduced the plantar flexor forces generated in the nominal simulations. Our comparisons revealed that the 2-element model required substantially less total excitation than the 1-element model to generate comparable forces, especially at higher cadences. For instance, at 140 RPM, the required excitation was reduced by 23%. These results suggest that a 2-element model, in which contractile properties are "tuned" to represent slower and faster motor units, can increase the apparent strength and perhaps improve the fidelity of simulations of tasks with varying mechanical demands.
Project description:<h4>Purpose</h4>A key determinant of muscle coordination and maximum power output during cycling is pedaling cadence. During cycling, the neuromuscular system may select from numerous solutions that solve the task demands while producing the same result. For more challenging tasks, fewer solutions will be available. Changes in the variability of individual muscle excitations (EMG) and multimuscle coordination, quantified by entropic half-life (EnHL), can reflect the number of solutions available at each system level. We, therefore, ask whether reduced variability in muscle coordination patterns occur at critical cadences and if they coincide with reduced variability in excitations of individual muscles.<h4>Methods</h4>Eleven trained cyclists completed an array of cadence-power output conditions. The EnHL of EMG intensity recorded from 10 leg muscles and EnHL of principal components describing muscle coordination were calculated. Multivariate adaptive regressive splines were used to determine the relationships between each EnHL and cycling condition or excitation characteristics (duration, duty cycle).<h4>Results</h4>Muscle coordination became more persistent at cadences up to 120 rpm, indicated by increasing EnHL values. Changes in EnHL at the level of the individual muscles differed from the changes in muscle coordination EnHL, with longer EnHL occurring at the slowest (<80 rpm) and fastest (>120 rpm) cadences. The EnHL of the main power producing muscles, however, reached a minimum by 80 rpm and did not change across the faster cadences studied.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Muscle coordination patterns, rather than the contribution of individual muscles, are key to power production at faster cadences in trained cyclists. Reductions in maximum power output at cadences above 120 rpm could be a function of the time available to coordinate orientation and transfer of forces to the pedals.
Project description:Running is thought to be an efficient gait due, in part, to the behavior of the plantar flexor muscles and elastic energy storage in the Achilles tendon. Although plantar flexor muscle mechanics and Achilles tendon energy storage have been explored during rearfoot striking, they have not been fully characterized during forefoot striking. This study examined how plantar flexor muscle-tendon mechanics during running differs between rearfoot and forefoot striking. We used musculoskeletal simulations, driven by joint angles and electromyography recorded from runners using both rearfoot and forefoot striking running patterns, to characterize plantar flexor muscle-tendon mechanics. The simulations revealed that foot strike pattern affected the soleus and gastrocnemius differently. For the soleus, forefoot striking decreased tendon energy storage and fiber work done while the muscle fibers were shortening compared to rearfoot striking. For the gastrocnemius, forefoot striking increased muscle activation and fiber work done while the muscle fibers were lengthening compared to rearfoot striking. These changes in gastrocnemius mechanics suggest that runners planning to convert to forefoot striking might benefit from a progressive eccentric gastrocnemius strengthening program to avoid injury.
Project description:Experiments have shown that elastic ankle exoskeletons can be used to reduce ankle joint and plantar-flexor muscle loading when hopping in place and, in turn, reduce metabolic energy consumption. However, recent experimental work has shown that such exoskeletons cause less favourable soleus (SO) muscle-tendon mechanics than is observed during normal hopping, which might limit the capacity of the exoskeleton to reduce energy consumption. To directly link plantar-flexor mechanics and energy consumption when hopping in exoskeletons, we used a musculoskeletal model of the human leg and a model of muscle energetics in simulations of muscle-tendon dynamics during hopping with and without elastic ankle exoskeletons. Simulations were driven by experimental electromyograms, joint kinematics and exoskeleton torque taken from previously published data. The data were from seven males who hopped at 2.5 Hz with and without elastic ankle exoskeletons. The energetics model showed that the total rate of metabolic energy consumption by ankle muscles was not significantly reduced by an ankle exoskeleton. This was despite large reductions in plantar-flexor force production (40-50%). The lack of larger metabolic reductions with exoskeletons was attributed to increases in plantar-flexor muscle fibre velocities and a shift to less favourable muscle fibre lengths during active force production. This limited the capacity for plantar-flexors to reduce activation and energy consumption when hopping with exoskeleton assistance.
Project description:The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of cadence on joint specific power and cycling kinematics in the ankle joint in addition to muscle oxygenation and muscle VO2 in the gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior. Thirteen cyclists cycled at a cadence of 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 and 110 rpm at a constant external work rate of 160.1 ± 21.3 W. Increasing cadence led to a decrease in ankle power in the dorsal flexion phase and to an increase in ankle joint angular velocity above 80 rpm. In addition, increasing cadence increased deoxygenation and desaturation for both the gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior muscles. Muscle VO2 increased following increased cadence but only in the tibialis anterior and only at cadences above 80 rpm, thus coinciding with the increase in ankle joint angular velocity. There was no effect of cadence in the gastrocnemius. This study demonstrates that high cadences lead to increased mVO2 in the TA muscles that cannot be explained by power in the dorsal flexion phase.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The prevalence of hallux valgus (HV) increases with age in females. Several studies have investigated the relationship between foot problems, including HV, and falls in older individuals. This study aimed to examine whether HV causes a decline in functional activity in young females and also evaluate the relationship between HV angle, functional activity, toe flexor strength, and plantar pressure. METHODS:We assessed 94 females (mean age, 19.6?±?1.3?years; mean body mass index, 21.2?±?2.0?kg/m2) not currently receiving treatment for lower limb disease. HV angle was determined using their footprint. Functional reach (FR) and maximum step length (MSL), toe flexor strength, and plantar pressure were measured. Plantar pressure was measured during walking. We also calculated FR and the pressure in eight regions (first toe, second through fifth toes, first metatarsal, second through fourth metatarsals, fifth metatarsal, midfoot, medial heel, and lateral heel). RESULTS:There were 39 and 55 participants in the HV and no HV groups, respectively. FR and MSL did not differ significantly between the HV and no HV groups. Toe flexor strength was significantly different between the HV and no HV groups (26.69?±?9.68 vs. 32.19?±?8.55, respectively) (p =?0.002, ??=?0.206). During walking, plantar pressure was significantly lower in the second through fifth toes in the HV group (p =?0.005, ??=?0.187). During FR, plantar pressure was significantly greater in the first metatarsal in the HV group (p =?0.016, ??=?0.338). HV angle was negatively correlated with toe flexor strength (r =?-?0.315, p =?0.002, ??=?0.121) and plantar pressure during walking in the second through fifth toes (r =?-?0.362, p < 0.001, ??=?0.047), and positively correlated with plantar pressure during FR in the first metatarsal (r =?0.308, p =?0.002, ??=?0.137). Toe flexor strength was negatively correlated with plantar pressure during FR in the second through fourth metatarsals (r = -?0.318, p =?0.002, ??=?0.115), and there was a positive correlation with MSL (r = 0.330, p =?0.001, ??=?0.092). CONCLUSIONS:This study confirmed that HV reduces toe flexor strength and affects forefoot pressure during walking and FR in young females. Moreover, the toe flexor strength affects MSL. Efforts to prevent the onset and deterioration of HV from a young age might help reduce the risk of falling when older.
Project description:To quantify muscle strength and size in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) in relation to intramuscular non-contractile tissue, the severity of neuropathy and vitamin D level.A total of 20 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and 20 control subjects underwent assessment of strength and size of knee extensor, flexor and ankle plantar and dorsi-flexor muscles, as well as quantification of intramuscular non-contractile tissue and detailed assessment of neuropathy and serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels.In subjects with impaired glucose tolerance, proximal knee extensor strength (P = 0.17) and volume (P = 0.77), and knee flexor volume (P = 0.97) did not differ from those in control subjects. Ankle plantar flexor strength was significantly lower (P = 0.04) in the subjects with impaired glucose tolerance, with no difference in ankle plantar flexor (P = 0.62) or dorsiflexor volume (P = 0.06) between groups. Intramuscular non-contractile tissue level was significantly higher in the ankle plantar flexors and dorsiflexors (P = 0.03) of subjects with impaired glucose tolerance compared with control subjects, and it correlated with the severity of neuropathy. Ankle plantar flexor muscle strength correlated significantly with corneal nerve fibre density (r = 0.53; P = 0.01), a sensitive measure of small fibre neuropathy, and was significantly lower in subjects with vitamin D deficiency (P = 0.02).People with impaired glucose tolerance have a significant reduction in distal but not proximal leg muscle strength, which is not associated with muscle atrophy, but with increased distal intramuscular non-contractile tissue, small fibre neuropathy and vitamin D deficiency.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The effect of cadence and work rate on the joint specific power production in cycling has previously been studied, but research has primarily focused on cadences above 60 rpm, without examining the effect of low cadence on joint contribution to power. PURPOSE:Our purpose was to investigate joint specific power production in recreational and elite cyclists during low- and moderate cycling at a range of different cadences. METHODS:18 male cyclists (30.9 ± 2.7 years with a work rate in watt at lactate threshold of 282.3 ± 9.3 W) performed cycling bouts at seven different pedalling rates and three intensities. Joint specific power was calculated from kinematic measurements and pedal forces using inverse dynamics at a total of 21 different stages. RESULTS:A main effect of cadence on the relative to the total joint power for hip-, knee- and ankle joint power was found (all p < 0.05). Increasing cadence led to increasing knee joint power and decreasing hip joint power (all p < 0.05), with the exception at low cadence (<60 rpm), where there was no effect of cadence. The elite cyclists had higher relative hip joint power compared to the recreational group (p < 0.05). The hip joint power at moderate intensity with a freely chosen cadence (FCC) was lower than the hip joint power at low intensity with a low cadence (<60 rpm) (p < 0.05). CONCLUSION:This study demonstrates that there is an effect of cadence on the hip- and knee joint contribution in cycling, however, the effect only occurs from 60 rpm and upward. It also demonstrates that there is a difference in joint contribution between elite- and recreational cyclists, and provide evidence for the possibility of achieving higher relative hip joint power at low intensity than moderate intensity by altering the cadence.
Project description:The current study tested the hypothesis that voluntary activation during maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) conditionally depends on sex and joint action. Twenty-eight healthy adults (14 of each sex) performed knee extensor MVC and plantar flexor MVC at extended and flexed knee positions. Voluntary activation during MVC was assessed using a twitch interpolation technique. The voluntary activation during plantar flexor MVC at the extended knee position was significantly lower (<i>P</i> = 0.020, 95% confidence interval 1.4 to 14.6, Cohen's d for between-subject design = 0.94) in women (88.3% ± 10.0%) than in men (96.2% ± 6.6%). In contrast, no significant sex differences were shown in the voluntary activation during knee extensor MVC (93.7% ± 5.9% (women) vs. 95.0% ± 3.9% (men)) and during plantar flexor MVC at the flexed knee position (90.4% ± 12.2% (women) vs. 96.8% ± 5.6% (men)). The voluntary activation during knee extensor MVC was significantly higher (<i>P</i> = 0.001, 95% confidence interval 2.1 to 8.8, Cohen's d for within-subject design = 0.69) than that during plantar flexor MVC at the extended knee position in women, whereas the corresponding difference was not observed in men. The results revealed that the existence of sex difference in the voluntary activation during MVC depends on joint action and joint angle.
Project description:Despite the robust findings linking plantar flexor muscle structure to gross function within athletes, the elderly and patients following Achilles tendon ruptures, the link between natural variation in plantar flexor structure and function in healthy adults is unclear. In this study, we determined the relationship between medial gastrocnemius structure and peak torque and total work about the ankle during maximal effort contractions. We measured resting fascicle length and pennation angle using ultrasound in healthy adults (N=12). Subjects performed maximal effort isometric and isokinetic contractions on a dynamometer. We found that longer fascicles were positively correlated with higher peak torque and total work (R2>0.41, P<0.013) across all isokinetic velocities, ranging from slow (30°/s) to fast (210°/s) contractions. Higher pennation angles were negatively correlated with peak torque and total work (R2>0.296, P<0.067). These correlations were not significant in isometric conditions. We further explored this relationship using a simple computational model to simulate isokinetic contractions. These simulations confirmed that longer fascicle lengths generate more joint torque and work throughout a greater range of motion. This study provides evidence that ankle function is strongly influenced by muscle structure in healthy adults.
Project description:High plantar flexor moment during the stance phase is known to cause high plantar pressure under the forefoot; however, the effects on plantar pressure due to a change of gastrocnemius medialis (GM) activity during gait, have not been investigated to date. Reciprocal inhibition is one of the effects of electrical stimulation (ES), and is the automatic antagonist alpha motor neuron inhibition which is evoked by excitation of the agonist muscle. The aim of this study was to investigate the influences of ES of the tibialis anterior (TA) on plantar pressure and the GM activity during gait in healthy adults. ES was applied to the TAs of twenty healthy male adults for 30 minutes at the level of intensity that causes a full range of dorsiflexion in the ankle (frequency; 50 Hz, on-time; 10 sec, off-time; 10 sec). Subjects walked 10 meters before and after ES, and we measured the peak plantar pressure (PP), pressure time integral (PTI), and gait parameters by using an F-scan system. The percentage of integrated electromyogram (%IEMG), active time, onset time, peak time, and cessation time of TA and GM were calculated. PP and PTI under the forefoot, rear foot, and total plantar surface significantly decreased after the application of ES. Meanwhile, changes of gait parameters were not observed. %IEMG and the active time of both muscles did not change; however, onset time and peak time of GM became significantly delayed. ES application to the TA delayed the timing of onset and peak in the GM, and caused the decrease of plantar pressure during gait. The present results suggest that ES to the TA could become a new method for the control of plantar pressure via modulation of GM activity during gait.