Biarticular muscles are most responsive to upper-body pitch perturbations in human standing

Christian Schumacher, Andrew Berry, Daniel Lemus, Christian Rode, André Seyfarth, Heike Vallery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
108 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Balancing the upper body is pivotal for upright and efficient gait. While models have identified potentially useful characteristics of biarticular thigh muscles for postural control of the upper body, experimental evidence for their specific role is lacking. Based on theoretical findings, we hypothesised that biarticular muscle activity would increase strongly in response to upper-body perturbations. To test this hypothesis, we used a novel Angular Momentum Perturbator (AMP) that, in contrast to existing methods, perturbs the upper-body posture with only minimal effect on Centre of Mass (CoM) excursions. The impulse-like AMP torques applied to the trunk of subjects resulted in upper-body pitch deflections of up to 17° with only small CoM excursions below 2 cm. Biarticular thigh muscles (biceps femoris long head and rectus femoris) showed the strongest increase in muscular activity (mid- and long-latency reflexes, starting 100 ms after perturbation onset) of all eight measured leg muscles which highlights the importance of biarticular muscles for restoring upper-body balance. These insights could be used for improving technological aids like rehabilitation or assistive devices, and the effectiveness of physical training for fall prevention e.g. for elderly people.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14492
Number of pages14
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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