Cats were trained to jump from a force platform to their maximum achievable heights. Vertical ground reaction forces developed by individual hindlimbs showed that the propulsion phase consists of two epochs. During the initial “preparatory phase' the cat can traverse many different paths. Irrespective of the path traversed, however, the cat always attains the same position, velocity and momentum at the end of this phase. Starting from this dynamic state the cat during the subsequent “launching phase' (about 150 ms long) generates significant propulsion as its hindlimbs develop force with identical, stereotypic profiles. Cinematographic data, electromyographic data, and computed torques about the hip, knee and ankle joints indicate that during the jump proximal extensor musculature is activated before distal musculature. During terminal experiments when the hindlimb was set at positions corresponding to those in the jump, isometric torques produced by tetanic stimulation of groups of extensor and flexor muscles were compared with computed torques developed by the same cat during previous jumps. These comparisons suggest that extensor muscles of the hindlimb are fully activated during the maximal vertical jump.

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