The relationship between tibiofemoral geometry and musculoskeletal function during normal activity

Saulo Martelli, Nicola Sancisi, Michele Conconi, Marcus G. Pandy, Mariana E. Kersh, Vincenzo Parenti-Castelli, Karen J. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The effect of tibiofemoral geometry on musculoskeletal function is important to movement biomechanics. Research question: We hypothesised that tibiofemoral geometry determines tibiofemoral motion and musculoskeletal function. We then aimed at 1) modelling tibiofemoral motion during normal activity as a function of tibiofemoral geometry in healthy adults; and 2) quantifying the effect of tibiofemoral geometry on musculoskeletal function. Methods: We used motion data for six activity types and CT images of the knee from 12 healthy adults. Geometrical variation of the tibia and femoral articular surfaces were measured in the CT images. The geometry-based tibiofemoral motion was calculated by fitting a parallel mechanism to geometrical variation in the cohort. Matched musculoskeletal models embedding the geometry-based tibiofemoral joint motion and a common generic tibiofemoral motion of reference were generated and used to calculate joint angles, net joint moments, muscle and joint forces for the six activities analysed. The tibiofemoral model was validated against bi-planar fluoroscopy measurements for walking for all the six planes of motion. The effect of tibiofemoral geometry on musculoskeletal function was the difference between the geometry-based model and the model of reference. Results: The geometry-based tibiofemoral motion described the pattern and the variation during walking for all six motion components, except the pattern of anterior tibial translation. Tibiofemoral geometry had moderate effect on cohort-averages of musculoskeletal function (R2 = 0.60–1), although its effect was high in specific instances of the model, outputs and activities analysed, reaching 2.94 BW for the ankle reaction force during stair descent. In conclusion, tibiofemoral geometry is a major determinant of tibiofemoral motion during walking. Significance: Geometrical variations of the tibiofemoral joint are important for studying musculoskeletal function during normal activity in specific individuals but not for studying cohort averages of musculoskeletal function. This finding expands current knowledge of movement biomechanics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-382
Number of pages9
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Anatomical scaling
  • Gait
  • Knee geometry
  • Muscle force
  • Musculoskeletal function
  • Physical activity


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