The development of contact force construction in the zdynamic-contact task of cycling

Nicholas A.T. Brown, Jody L. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Purposeful movement requires that an individual produce appropriate joint torques to accelerate segments, and when environmental contact is involved, to develop task-appropriate contact forces. Developmental research has been confined largely to the mastery of unconstrained movement skills (pointing, kicking). The purpose of this study was to study the developmental progression that characterizes the interaction of muscular and non-muscular forces in tasks constrained by contact with the environment. Seven younger children (YC, 6-8 years), 7 older children (OC, 9-11 years) and 7 adults (AD) pedaled an ergometer (80rpm) at an anthropometrically scaled cycling power. Resultant forces measured at the pedal's surface were decomposed into muscle, inertia and gravity components. Muscle pedal forces were further examined in terms of the underlying lower extremity joint torques and kinematic weights that constitute the muscular component of the pedal force. Data showed children applied muscle forces to the pedal in a significantly different manner compared to adults, and that this was due to the children's lower segmental mass and inertia. The children adjusted the contribution of the proximal joint muscle torques to compensate for reduced contributions to the resultant pedal force by gravitational and inertial components. These data show that smaller segmental mass and inertia limit younger children's ability to construct the dynamic-contact task of cycling in an adult-like form. On the basis of these results, however, the children's response was not "immature". Rather, the results show a task-appropriate adaptation to lower segmental mass and inertia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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