Little is known regarding the precise muscle, bone and joint actions resulting from individual and simultaneous muscle activation(s) of the lower limb. An in situ experimental approach is described herein to control the muscles of the rabbit lower hindlimb, including the medial and lateral gastrocnemius, soleus, plantaris and tibialis anterior. The muscles were stimulated using nerve-cuff electrodes placed around the innervating nerves of each muscle. Animals were fixed in a stereotactic frame with the ankle angle set at 90 deg. To demonstrate the efficacy of the experimental technique, isometric plantarflexion torque was measured at the 90 deg ankle joint angle at a stimulation frequency of 100, 60 and 30 Hz. Individual muscle torque and the torque produced during simultaneous activation of all plantarflexor muscles are presented for four animals. These results demonstrate that the experimental approach was reliable, with insignificant variation in torque between repeated contractions. The experimental approach described herein provides the potential for measuring a diverse array of muscle properties, which is important to improve our understanding of musculoskeletal biomechanics.

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