Modeling the effects of musculoskeletal geometry on scapulohumeral muscle moment arms and lines of action Academic Article uri icon

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  • Biomechanical investigations examining shoulder function commonly observe a high degree of inter-individual variability in muscle activity and kinematic patterns during static and dynamic upper extremity exertions. Substantial differences in musculoskeletal geometry between individuals can alter muscle moment arms and lines of action that, theoretically, alter muscle activity and shoulder kinematics. The purposes of this research were to: (i) quantify model-predicted functional roles (moment arms, lines of action) of the scapulohumeral muscles, (ii) compare model predictions to experimental data in the literature, and (iii) evaluate sensitivity of muscle functional roles due to changes in muscle attachment locations using probabilistic modeling. Monte Carlo simulations were performed to iteratively adjust muscle attachment locations at the clavicle, scapula, and humerus of the Delft Shoulder and Elbow Model in OpenSim. Muscle moment arms and lines of action were quantified throughout arm elevation in the scapular plane. In general, model-predicted moment arms agreed well with the reviewed literature; however, notable inconsistencies were observed when comparing lines of action. Variability in moment arms and lines of action were muscle-specific, with 2 standard deviations in moment arm and line of actions as high as 25.8 mm and 18.8° for some muscles, respectively. Moment arms were particularly sensitive to changes in attachment site closest to the joint centre. Variations in muscle functional roles due to differences in musculoskeletal geometry are expected to require different muscle activity and movement patterns for upper extremity exertions.


  • Mulla, Daanish M
  • Hodder, Joanne N
  • Maly, Monica R
  • Lyons, James L
  • Keir, Peter

publication date

  • December 10, 2019