Measurements of joint work and power were determined using inverse dynamics analysis based on ground reaction force and high-speed video recordings of tammar wallabies as they decelerated and accelerated while hopping over a force platform on level ground. Measurements were obtained over a range of accelerations ranging from -6 m s(-2) to 8 m s(-2). The goal of our study was to determine which joints are used to modulate mechanical power when tammar wallabies change speed. From these measurements, we also sought to determine which hind limb muscle groups are the most important for producing changes in mechanical work. Because our previous in vivo analyses of wallaby distal muscle function indicated that these muscle-tendon units favor elastic energy savings and perform little work during steady level and incline hopping, we hypothesized that proximal muscle groups operating at the hip and knee joint are most important for the modulation of mechanical work and power. Of the four hind limb joints examined, the ankle joint had the greatest influence on the total limb work, accounting for 89% of the variation observed with changing speed. The hip and metatarsophalageal (MP) joints also contributed to modulating whole limb work, but to a lesser degree than the ankle, accounting for 28% (energy production) and -24% (energy absorption) of the change in whole limb work versus acceleration, respectively. In contrast, the work produced at the knee joint was independent of acceleration. Based on the results of our previous in vivo studies and given that the magnitude of power produced at the ankle exceeds that which these muscles alone could produce, we conclude that the majority of power produced at the ankle joint is likely transferred from the hip and knee joints via proximal bi-articular muscles, operating in tandem with bi-articular ankle extensors, to power changes in hopping speed of tammar wallabies. Additionally, over the observed range of performance, peak joint moments at the ankle (and resulting tendon strains) did not increase significantly with acceleration, indicating that having thin tendons favoring elastic energy storage does not necessarily limit a tammar wallaby's ability to accelerate or decelerate.
McGowan, C PBaudinette, R VBiewener, A AengComparative StudyResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.England2004/12/17 09:00J Exp Biol. 2005 Jan;208(Pt 1):41-53.