Modeling short-range stiffness of feline lower hindlimb muscles
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The short-range stiffness (SRS) of skeletal muscles is a critical property for understanding muscle contributions to limb stability, since it represents a muscle's capacity to resist external perturbations before reflexes or voluntary actions can intervene. A number of studies have demonstrated that a simple model, consisting of a force-dependent active stiffness connected in series with a constant passive stiffness, is sufficient to characterize the SRS of individual muscles over the entire range of obtainable forces. The purpose of this study was to determine if such a model could be used to characterize the SRS-force relationship in a number of architecturally distinct muscles. Specifically, we hypothesized that the active and passive stiffness components for a specific muscle can be estimated from anatomical measurements, assuming uniform active and passive stiffness properties across all muscles. This hypothesis was evaluated in six feline lower hindlimb muscle types with different motor unit compositions and architectures. The SRS-force relationships for each muscle type were predicted based on anatomical measurements and compared to experimental data. The model predictions were accurate to within 30%, when uniform scaling properties were assumed across all muscles. Errors were the greatest for the extensor digitorum longus (EDL). When this muscle was removed from the analysis, prediction errors dropped to less than 8%. Subsequent analyses suggested that these errors might have resulted from differences in the tendon elastic modulus, as compared to the other muscles tested.