Variation of muscle moment arms with elbow and forearm position

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

273 Scopus citations


We hypothesized that the moment arms of muscles crossing the elbow vary substantially with forearm and elbow position and that these variations could be represented using a three-dimensional computer model. Flexion/extension and pronation/supination moment arms of the brachioradialis, biceps, brachialis, pronator teres, and triceps were calculated from measurements of tendon displacement and joint angle in two anatomic specimens and were estimated using a computer model of the elbow joint. The anatomical measurements revealed that the flexion/extension moment arms varied by at least 30% over a 95° range of motion. The changes in flexion/extension moment arm magnitudes with elbow flexion angle were represented well by the computer model. The anatomical studies and the computer model demonstrate that the biceps flexion moment arm peaks in a more extended elbow position and has a larger peak when the forearm is supinated. Also, the peak biceps supination moment arm decreases as the elbow is extended. These results emphasize the need to account for the variation of muscle moment arms with elbow flexion and forearm position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-515,517-525
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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