The biomechanics of an overarm throwing task: A simulation model examination of optimal timing of muscle activations

Aasim G. Chowdhary, John H. Challis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A series of overarm throws, constrained to the parasagittal plane, were simulated using a muscle model actuated two-segment model representing the forearm and hand plus projectile. The parameters defining the modeled muscles and the anthropometry of the two-segment models were specific to the two young male subjects. All simulations commenced from a position of full elbow flexion and full wrist extension. The study was designed to elucidate the optimal inter-muscular coordination strategies for throwing projectiles to achieve maximum range, as well as maximum projectile kinetic energy for a variety of projectile masses. A proximal to distal (PD) sequence of muscle activations was seen in many of the simulated throws but not all. Under certain conditions moment reversal produced a longer throw and greater projectile energy, and deactivation of the muscles resulted in increased projectile energy. Therefore, simple timing of muscle activation does not fully describe the patterns of muscle recruitment which can produce optimal throws. The models of the two subjects required different timings of muscle activations, and for some of the tasks used different coordination patterns. Optimal strategies were found to vary with the mass of the projectile, the anthropometry and the muscle characteristics of the subjects modeled. The tasks examined were relatively simple, but basic rules for coordinating these tasks were not evident.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 7 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


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