In order to produce movements, muscles must act through joints. The translation from muscle force to limb movement is mediated by internal joint structures that permit movement in some directions but constrain it in others. Although muscle forces acting against constrained directions will not affect limb movements, such forces can cause excess stresses and strains in joint structures, leading to pain or injury. In this study, we hypothesized that the central nervous system (CNS) chooses muscle activations to avoid excessive joint stresses and strains. We evaluated this hypothesis by examining adaptation strategies after selective paralysis of a muscle acting at the rat’s knee. We show that the CNS compromises between restoration of task performance and regulation of joint stresses and strains. These results have significant implications to our understanding of the neural control of movements, suggesting that common theories emphasizing task performance are insufficient to explain muscle activations during behaviors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)