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Muscles used for certain movements

  1. Feb 22, 2015 #1
    How would I know what muscles contract and which ones relax during each phase of a particular movement such as walking? I mean for the arms and legs that is pretty easy. I can just feel my own muscle and see if it feels smaller or bigger during each phase to know whether it is contracting or relaxing. However the glutei and abs are also involved in walking. In particular the glutei in the forward movement of the leg and the abs for stability. For me it is not as easy to feel the muscle to know whether it is contracting or relaxing when it comes to the glutei or abs, especially the abs. So how would I know whether the glutei and abs are contracting or relaxing during each phase?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    That is part of learning about physiology and sports medicine. I think you are currently in high school, correct? Do you have access to a community college where you can take courses in physiology and sports medicine? If not, there are some good on-line classes... :smile:
  4. Feb 22, 2015 #3
    Is there a specific reason you are interested in this question? The cerebellum in combination with the midbrain organizes gait through reciprocally inhibitive networks. This is a feature that's conserved in all mammals. In Eutherian mammals, we see the conspicuous appearance of frontal motor strip, and in primates this evolves into a highly developed prefrontal cortex (PFC). We can say that this PFC is involved in "voluntary" movements, those that may accentuate or "veto" the involuntary balancing act that the cerebellum-midbrain complex confers. So, in short, we basically have two superposed kinesthetic systems operating here, one voluntary and one involuntary. As berkeman intimated, if you want to learn more about the involuntary component, there is a good deal of literature that describes these reciprocally inhibitive mechanisms. The voluntary part is a bit more complicated, and for humans in particular you are venturing into the arena of consciousness study.
  5. Feb 22, 2015 #4


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    Here's a free article published in Elsevier's "Gait and Posture:

    Within the article, you will see skeleton figures with forces on them and descriptions of muscle coordination in the text. For your own searches, the discipline I most often hear associated with this is 'kinesiology':
  6. Feb 22, 2015 #5
    When I look at the work done by muscles during gait I see the glutei and how much work they do(I guess the black and white represent the two main phases, that is stance and swing, each of which are separated into smaller phases) but I don't see anything about the abs or when the muscles involved contract and relax.

    I most often hear muscle involvement in physiology and biomechanics. I have searched things like "What muscles are involved in walking" and "Which muscles contract in the flat foot phase" and I got no clear answer when it came to which muscles contract in each phase.

    I then searched for biomechanics forums thinking that they might help me figure out when each individual muscle involved(Quadriceps femoris, Biceps femoris, Abs, Gluteus maximus, Gluteus medius, Gluteus minimus, Gastroscenemus(not sure if I am spelling that right) etc.) contract and relax but all I got there was things about researchers experimenting with biomechanics and nothing that would help me get an answer to this question about when each muscle contracts and relaxes.
  7. Feb 23, 2015 #6

    Suraj M

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    Gold Member

    This is a tough question, its answerable but time consuming as you have not specified any particular movement!
    If you consider walking itself, the muscles for :moving your legs + holding your head up+ Helping your vertebral column + even muscles of your eye to co-ordinate your movement + cardiac + stapedius + many more. Too hard to list out all the muscles, you can list out the major muscles, but all, really hard.
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