Skeletal muscle mechanics, energetics and plasticity Daniel P Ferris

Richard L. Lieber, Thomas J. Roberts, Silvia S. Blemker, Sabrina S.M. Lee, Walter Herzog*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


The following papers by Richard Lieber (Skeletal Muscle as an Actuator), Thomas Roberts (Elastic Mechanisms and Muscle Function), Silvia Blemker (Skeletal Muscle has a Mind of its Own: a Computational Framework to Model the Complex Process of Muscle Adaptation) and Sabrina Lee (Muscle Properties of Spastic Muscle (Stroke and CP) are summaries of their representative contributions for the session on skeletal muscle mechanics, energetics and plasticity at the 2016 Biomechanics and Neural Control of Movement Conference (BANCOM 2016). Dr. Lieber revisits the topic of sarcomere length as a fundamental property of skeletal muscle contraction. Specifically, problems associated with sarcomere length non-uniformity and the role of sarcomerogenesis in diseases such as cerebral palsy are critically discussed. Dr. Roberts then makes us aware of the (often neglected) role of the passive tissues in muscles and discusses the properties of parallel elasticity and series elasticity, and their role in muscle function. Specifically, he identifies the merits of analyzing muscle deformations in three dimensions (rather than just two), because of the potential decoupling of the parallel elastic element length from the contractile element length, and reviews the associated implications for the architectural gear ratio of skeletal muscle contraction. Dr. Blemker then tackles muscle adaptation using a novel way of looking at adaptive processes and what might drive adaptation. She argues that cells do not have pre-programmed behaviors that are controlled by the nervous system. Rather, the adaptive responses of muscle fibers are determined by sub-cellular signaling pathways that are affected by mechanical and biochemical stimuli; an exciting framework with lots of potential. Finally, Dr. Lee takes on the challenging task of determining human muscle properties in vivo. She identifies the dilemma of how we can demonstrate the effectiveness of a treatment, specifically in cases of muscle spasticity following stroke or in children with cerebral palsy. She then discusses the merits of ultrasound based elastography, and the clinical possibilities this technique might hold. Overall, we are treated to a vast array of basic and clinical problems in skeletal muscle mechanics and physiology, with some solutions, and many suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108
JournalJournal of neuroengineering and rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 23 2017


  • Cross-bridge theory
  • Force sharing
  • Muscle mechanics
  • Muscle modeling
  • Residual force enhancement
  • Sarcomeres
  • Sliding filament
  • Titin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Rehabilitation


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