An investigation of the interactions between lower-limb bone morphology, limb inertial properties and limb dynamics

Leah Dellanini, David Hawkins, R. Bruce Martin, Susan M Stover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Bone mass and size clearly affect the safety and survival of wild animals as well as human beings, however, little is known about the interactions between bone size and movement dynamics. A modeling approach was used to investigate the hypothesis that increased bone cortical area causes increased limb moments of inertia, decreased lower-limb movement maximum velocities, and increased energy requirements to sustain submaximum lower-limb locomotion movements. Custom software and digital data of a human leg were used to simulate femur, tibia, and fibula cortical bone area increases of 0%, 22%, 50%, and 80%. Limb segment masses, center of mass locations, and moments of inertia in the sagittal plane were calculated for each bone condition. Movement simulations of unloaded running and cycling motions were performed. Linear regression analyses were used to determine the magnitude of the effect cortical area has on limb moment of inertia, velocity, and the internal work required to move the limbs at a given velocity. The thigh and shank moment of inertia increased linearly up to 1.5% and 6.9%, respectively for an 80% increase in cortical area resulting in 1.3% and 2.0% decreases in maximum unloaded cycling and running velocities, respectively, and in 3.0% and 2.9% increases in internal work for the cycling and running motions, respectively. These results support the hypothesis and though small changes in movement speed and energy demands were observed, such changes may have played an important role in animal survival as bones evolved and became less robust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-919
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Bone remodeling
  • Cortical area
  • Movement simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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