The role of the biarticular hamstrings and gastrocnemius muscles in closed chain lower limb extension

Cleather, Daniel J. and Southgate, Dominic F. L. and Bull, Anthony M. J. (2015) The role of the biarticular hamstrings and gastrocnemius muscles in closed chain lower limb extension. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 365. pp. 217-225. ISSN 0022-5193

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2014.10.020

Abstract

The role of the biarticular muscles is a topic that has received considerable attention however their function is not well understood. In this paper, we argue that an analysis that is based upon considering the effect of the biarticular muscles on the segments that they span (rather than their effect on joint rotations) can be illuminating. We demonstrate that this understanding is predicated on a consideration of the relative sizes of the moment arms of a biarticular muscle about the two joints that it crosses. The weight of the previous literature suggests that the moment arms of both the biarticular hamstrings and gastrocnemius are smaller at the knee than at the hip or ankle (respectively). This in turn leads to the conclusion that both biarticular hamstrings and gastrocnemius are extensors of the lower limb. We show that the existence of these biarticular structures lends a degree of flexibility to the motor control strategies available for lower limb extension. In particular, the role of the gastrocnemius and biarticular hamstrings in permitting a large involvement of the quadriceps musculature in closed chain lower limb extension may be more important than is typically portrayed. Finally, the analysis presented in this paper demonstrates the importance of considering the effects of muscles on the body as a whole, not just on the joints they span.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: 500 Natural sciences & mathematics > 571 Physiology & related subjects
School/Department: School of Sport, Health and Applied Science
Depositing User: Daniel Cleather
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2014 09:21
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2014 09:21
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/774

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