Scaling of peak moment arms of elbow muscles with upper extremity bone dimensions

Wendy M. Murray*, Thomas S. Buchanan, Scott L. Delp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


It is often assumed that moment arms scale with size and can be normalized by body segment lengths or limb circumferences. However, quantitative scaling relationships between moment arms and anthropometric dimensions are generally not available. We hypothesized that peak moment arms of the elbow flexor and extensor muscles scale with the shorter distance (Ds) between the elbow flexion axis and a muscle's origin and insertion. To test this hypothesis, we estimated moment arms of six muscles that cross the elbow, digitized muscle attachment sites and bone surface geometry, and estimated the location of the elbow flexion axis in 10 upper extremity cadaveric specimens which ranged in size from a 5′0″ female to a 6′4″ male. Ds accurately reflected the differences in peak moment arms across different muscles, explaining 93-99% of the variation in peaks between muscles in the same specimen. Ds also explained between 55% and 88% of the interspecimen variation in peak moment arms for brachioradialis, biceps, and ECRL. Triceps peak moment arm was significantly correlated to the anterior-posterior dimension of the ulna measured at the olecranon (r2=0.61, p=0.008). Radius length provides a good measure of the interspecimen variation in peaks for brachioradialis, biceps, and ECRL. However, bone lengths were not significantly correlated to triceps moment arm or anterior-posterior bone dimensions. This work advances our understanding of the variability and scaling dimensions for elbow muscle moment arms across subjects of different sizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Elbow
  • Moment arms
  • Muscle
  • Scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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