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Keywords:

  • anterior cruciate ligament;
  • computational modeling;
  • cruciate ligaments;
  • knee joint;
  • posterior cruciate ligament

Abstract

This study investigated the function of the cruciate ligaments during a forward lunge movement. The mechanical roles of the anterior and posterior cruciate ligament (ACL, PCL) during sagittal plane movements, such as forward lunging, are unclear. A forward lunge movement contains a knee joint flexion and extension that is controlled by the quadriceps muscle. The contraction of the quadriceps can cause anterior tibial translation, which may strain the ACL at knee joint positions close to full extension. However, recent findings suggest that it is the PCL rather than the ACL which is strained during forward lunging. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to establish a musculoskeletal model of the forward lunge to computationally investigate the complete mechanical force equilibrium of the tibia during the movement to examine the loading pattern of the cruciate ligaments. A healthy female was selected from a group of healthy subjects who all performed a forward lunge on a force platform, targeting a knee flexion angle of 90°. Skin-markers were placed on anatomical landmarks on the subject and the movement was recorded by five video cameras. The three-dimensional kinematic data describing the forward lunge movement were extracted and used to develop a biomechanical model of the lunge movement. The model comprised two legs including femur, crus, rigid foot segments and the pelvis. Each leg had 35 independent muscle units, which were recruited according to a minimum fatigue criterion. This approach allowed a full understanding of the mechanical equilibrium of the knee joint, which revealed that the PCL had an important stabilizing role in the forward lunge movement. In contrast, the ACL did not have any significant mechanical function during the lunge movement. Furthermore, the results showed that m. gluteus maximus may play a role as a knee stabilizer in addition to the hamstring muscles.