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The influence of the inertial properties of the human body: Cycling at different pedaling speeds

Li Li, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Human performance will be altered by changes in movement speed. The inertial properties of human limbs may play an important role in these alterations. The effects of these changes may be observed with the measurement of joint and segmental mechanics, as well as muscular kinematics, kinetics and muscular activity patterns. In this study, the cycling motion was used to investigate these inertial effects, following the development of a new mechanical model that provided the theoretical basis of coordination changes with movement speed. The alteration of cycling performance with different pedaling speed was examined using: (1) Surface EMG as an indication of the changes in muscular coordination as a function of cadence; (2) Inverse dynamics and decomposition of mechanical parameters to identify the influence of gravitational, inertial, and external factors; and (3) Simulations via a musculoskeletal modeling approach to assess the contributions of individual muscles. As predicted by the theoretical model, an increase in pedaling speed produced greater changes at the hip joint compared to knee and ankle joint in both muscular activities and mechanical measures. The changes in muscular activity were evident in both the activity of the single joint hip extensor and the coordination among the synergistic muscles. The altered muscular activities with increased cadence were accompanied by changes in joint moments, in the order of hip, knee and ankle joint from greatest to smallest. Further, the responses in movement organization were not linearly related to the increased inertial influence as the pedaling speed increased. Finally, the simulation analysis demonstrated a compensatory relation between gastrocnemius and soleus muscular activities with different pedaling speeds, although the combined patterns of the two were consistent.

Subject Area

Biophysics|Anatomy & physiology|Animals|Biomedical research|Sports medicine

Recommended Citation

Li, Li, "The influence of the inertial properties of the human body: Cycling at different pedaling speeds" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9932325.