Specific tension of elbow flexor and extensor muscles based on magnetic resonance imaging

  • Yasuo Kawakami
  • Kimitaka Nakazawa
  • Toshiro Fujimoto
  • Daichi Nozaki
  • Mitsumasa Miyashita
  • Tetsuo Fukunaga


Series cross-section images of the upper extremity were obtained for four men by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and anatomical cross-sectional areas (ACSA) of elbow flexor muscles [biceps brachii (BIC), brachialis (BRA), brachioradialis (BRD)] and extensor muscles [triceps brachii (TRI)] were measured. Physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA) was calculated from the muscle volume and muscle fibre length, the former from the series ACSA and the latter from the muscle length multiplied by previously reported fibre/muscle length ratios. Elbow flexion/extension torque was measured using an isokinetic dynamometer and the force at the tendons was calculated from the torque and moment arms of muscles measured by MRI. Maximal ACSA of TRI was comparable to that of total flexors, while PCSA of TRI was greater by 1.9 times. Within flexors, BRA had the greatest contribution to torque (47%), followed by BIC (34%) and BRD (19%). Specific tension related to the estimated velocity of muscle fibres were similar for elbow flexors and extensors, suggesting that the capacity of tension development is analogous between two muscle groups.

Key words

Physiological cross-sectional area Muscle volume Moment arm Torque 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Amis AA, Dowson D, Wright V (1979) Muscle strengths and musculo-skeletal geometry of the upper limb. Eng Med 8:41–48Google Scholar
  2. An KN, Fui FC, Morrey BF, Linscheid RL, Chao EY (1981) Muscles across the elbow joint. J Biomech 14:659–669Google Scholar
  3. An KN, Kaufman KR, Chao EYS (1989) Physiological considerations of muscle force through the elbow joint. J Biomech 22:1249–1256Google Scholar
  4. Bo WJ, Meschan I, Krueger WA (1980) Basic atlas of cross-sectional anatomy. Saunders, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  5. Bodine SC, Roy RR, Meadows DAA, Zernicke RF, Sacks RD, Fournier M, Edgerton VR (1982) Architectural, histochemical, and contractile characteristics of a unique biarticular muscle: the cat semitendinosus. J Neurophysiol 48:192–201Google Scholar
  6. Brand RA, Pedersen DR, Friedrich JA (1986) The sensitivity of muscle force predictions to changes in physiologic cross-sectional area. J Biomech 19:589–596Google Scholar
  7. Conover WJ (1980) Practical nonparametric statistics. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Cutts A (1988) Shrinkage of muscle fibres during the fixation of cadaveric tissue. J Anat 160:75–78Google Scholar
  9. Edgerton VR, Roy RR, Apor P (1986) Specific tension of human elbow flexor muscles. In: Saltin B (ed) Biochemistry of exercise VI. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Ill., pp 487–500Google Scholar
  10. Friedrich JA, Brand RA (1990) Muscle fiber architecture in the human lower limb. J Biomech 23:91–95Google Scholar
  11. Fukunaga T, Roy RR, Schellock FG, Hodgson JA, Day MK, Lee PL, Kwong-Fu H, Edgerton VR (1992) Physiological cross-sectional area of human leg muscles based on magnetic resonance imaging. J Orthop Res 10:926–934Google Scholar
  12. Henriksson-Larsen K, Wretling M-L, Lorentzon RL, Oberg L (1992) Do muscle size and fibre angulation correlate in pennated human muscles? Eur J Appl Physiol 64:68–72Google Scholar
  13. Hill AV (1938) The heat of shortening and the dynamic constants of mucsle. Proc R Soc London [Ser B] 126:136–195Google Scholar
  14. Hortobagyi T, Katch FI (1990) Eccentric and concentric torque-velocity relationships during arm flexion and extension. Eur J Appl Phsiol 60:395–401Google Scholar
  15. Ikai M, Fukunaga T (1968) Calculation of muscle strength per unit cross-sectional area of human muscle by means of ultrasonic measurement. Int Z Angew Physiol Einshcl Arbeitsphysiol 26:26–32Google Scholar
  16. Kawakami Y, Hirano Y, Miyashita M, Fukunaga T (1993a) Effect of leg extension training on concentric and eccentric strength of quadriceps femoris muscles. Scand J Med Sci Sports 3:22–27Google Scholar
  17. Kawakami Y, Abe T, Fukunaga T (1993b) Muscle-fibre pennation angles are greater in hypertrophied than in normal muscles. J Appl Physiol 74:2740–2744Google Scholar
  18. Komi PV (1973) Measurement of the force-velocity relationship in human muscle under concentric and eccentric contractions. Med Sport 8:224–229Google Scholar
  19. Komi PV (1979) Neuromuscular performance: factors influencing force and speed production. Scand J Sports Sci 1:2–15Google Scholar
  20. Maughan RJ, Watson JS, Landoni L (1988) Force of knee extensor and flexor muscles and cross-sectional area determined by nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. Eur J Appl Physiol 57:39–44Google Scholar
  21. Narici MV, Roi GS, Landoni L, Minetti AE, Cerretelli P (1989) Changes in force, cross-sectional area and neural activation during strength training and detraining of the human quadriceps. Eur J Appl Physiol 59:319–319Google Scholar
  22. Narici MV, Landoni L, Minetti AE (1992) Assessment of human knee extensor muscles stress from in vivo physiological cross-sectional area and strength measurements. Eur J Appl Physiol 65:438–444Google Scholar
  23. Nygaard E, Houston M, Suzuki Y, Jorgensen K, Saltin B (1983) Morphology of the brachial biceps muscle and elbow flexion in man. Acta Physiol Scand 117:287–292Google Scholar
  24. Rizzardo M, Wessel J, Bay G (1988) Eccentric and concentric torque and power of the knee extensors of females. Can J Sports Sci 13:166–169Google Scholar
  25. Rugg SG, Gregor RJ, Mandelbaum BR, Chui L (1990) In vivo moment arm calculations at the ankle using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). J Biomech 23:495–501Google Scholar
  26. Rutherford OM, Jones DA (1992) Measurement of fibre pennation using ultrasound in the human quadriceps in vivo. Eur J Appl Physiol 65:433–437Google Scholar
  27. Singh M, Karpovich PV (1966) Isotonic and isometric forces of forearm flexors and extensors. J Appl Physiol 21:1435–1437Google Scholar
  28. Spector SA, Gardiner PF, Zernicke RF, Roy RR, Edgerton VR (1980) Muscle architecture and force-velocity characteristics of cat soleus and medial gastrocnemius: implications for motor control. J Neurophysiol 44:951–960Google Scholar
  29. Spoor CW, van Leeuwen JL (1992) Knee muscle moment arms from MRI and from tendon travel. J Biomech 25:201–206Google Scholar
  30. Thorstensson A, Grimby G, Karlsson J (1976) Force-velocity relations and fiber composition in human knee extensor muscles. J Appl Physiol 40:12–16Google Scholar
  31. Westing SH, Seger JY (1989) Eccentric and concentric torquevelocity characteristics, torque output comparison, and gravity effect torque corrections for the quadriceps and hamstring muscles in females. Int J Sports Med 10:175–180Google Scholar
  32. Westing SH, Seger JY, Karlson E, Ekblom B (1988) Eccentric and concentric torque-velocity characteristics of the quadriceps femoris in man. Eur J Appl Physiol 58:100–104Google Scholar
  33. Wickiewicz TL, Roy RR, Powell PL, Edgerton VR (1983) Muscle architecture of the human lower limb. Clin Orthop Rel Res 179:275–283Google Scholar
  34. Wickiewicz TL, Roy RR, Powell PL, Perrine JJ, Edgerton VR (1984) Muscle architecture and force-velocity relationships in humans. J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol 57:435–443Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yasuo Kawakami
    • 1
  • Kimitaka Nakazawa
    • 2
  • Toshiro Fujimoto
    • 3
  • Daichi Nozaki
    • 4
  • Mitsumasa Miyashita
    • 4
  • Tetsuo Fukunaga
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sports Sciences, College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.National Rehabilitation CenterSaitamaJapan
  3. 3.Fujimoto HospitalMiyazakiJapan
  4. 4.Laboratory for Sports Sciences, Faculty of EducationUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations