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International Society of Biomechanics Fellows


Professor Maarten Bobbert

The following commentary addresses a problem that is pervading the field of human movement science and (clinical) biomechanics:

Chaos in the Brickyard (Forscher, 1963)

Two classic papers by Herbert Hatze, whom I consider to be the founding father of modern simulation and optimization studies with musculoskeletal models.  Herbert Hatze was way ahead of his time.

Myocybernetic control model of skeletal-muscle (Hatze, 1977)

A comprehensive model for human motion simulation and its application to the take-off phase of the long jump (Hatze, 1981)

A paper by Gerrit Jan van Ingen Schenau and Peter Cavanagh, clearly presenting a sound way to calculate power and work in human motion.

Power equations in endurance sports (van Ingen Schenau and Cavanagh, 1990)


Professor Ton van den Bogert

I once told my students that the most important paper in biomechanics is about a jumping lamp.  This 1988 paper was an important proof of concept for trajectory optimization to predict human motion from models:

Spacetime Constraints (Witkin and Kass, 1988)

Winter's mechanical energy paper (1983) is still a very relevant trusted source of information.  This is the inspiration for modern prosthetic devices.  Winter showed that the knee mostly absorbs energy, so can be replaced by a controlled damper, and the ankle must generate a lot of energy so that is where a motor can be helpful. 

Energy generation and absorption at the ankle and knee during fast, natural and slow cadences (Winter, 1983)

Grood and Suntay's introduction of the Joint Coordinate System.  Thanks to this work, we have a standard way to describe three-dimensional joint rotations.

A joint coordinate system for the clinical description of three-dimensional motions: application to the knee (Grood and Suntay, 1983)

He, Levine and Loeb's 1991 paper on optimal feedback control of a cat hind limb is still an inspiring and unique connection between musculoskeletal dynamics and classical control theory.

Feedback gains for correcting small perturbations to standing posture (He, Levine and Loeb, 1991)


Professor Walter Herzog

In muscle mechanics, the classic manuscripts are a given: 

The sliding filament theory:

Structural changes in muscle during contraction (Huxley and Niedergerke, 1954)

The cross-bridge theory:

Muscle structure and theories of contraction (Butler and Katz, 1957), A. F. Huxley Chpt 6, pg 257-318

Proposed mechanism of force generation in striated muscle (Huxley and Simmons, 1971)

The force length property of muscle:

The variation in isometric tension with sarcomere length in vertebrate muscle fibres (Gordon, Huxley and Julian, 1966)

The force-velocity relationship:

The heat of shortening and the dynamic constants of muscle (Hill, 1938)


Professor Jill McNitt-Gray

Kinetics of Human Motion (Zatsiorsky, 2002)

Kinematics of Human Motion (Zatsiorsky, 1998)

Biomechanics of Skeletal Muscle (Zatsiorsky and Prilutsky, 2012)

Biomechanics of sport: a research approach (Miller and Nelson, 1973)

Biomechanics and Motor Control of Human Movement, 4th Edition (Winter, 2009)


Professor Peter Milburn

Human mechanics: four monographs abridged (Goff, 1963)

This contains abridged versions of four of the 'classic papers' of early biomechanics:

  1. Braune, C. W., & Fischer, O. (1889). *Über den Schwerpunkt des menschlichen Körpers: mit Rücksicht auf die Ausrüstung des deutschen Infanteristen*. S. Hirzel. (About the center of gravity of the human body: with regard to the equipment of the German infantryman)
  2. Fischer, O. (1906). Theoretical fundamentals for a mechanics of living bodies with special applications to man as well as to some processes of motion in machines. *BG Teubner, Berlin.*
  3. Amar, J., Butterworth, E. M., & Wright, G. E. (1920). *The Human Motor, Or,The Scientific Foundations of Labour and Industry: With 309 Illustrations and Numerous Tables*. G. Routledge & sons, Limited.
  4. Dempster, Wilfrid Taylor. "Space requirements of the seated operator: geometrical, kinematic, and mechanical aspects of the body, with special reference to the limbs." (1955).

More 'modern day' classics might include:

Direct linear transformation method for three-dimensional cinematography (Shapiro, 1978)

This was the first paper published on the direct linear transformation (DLT) method, the basis of 3D motion capture.  It takes the technique back to 'first principles' so students understand the theory behind the systems currently available. 

Mechanical stability of the in vivo lumbar spine: implications for injury and chronic low back pain (Cholewicki and McGill, 1996)

This presents a method to quantify the mechanical stability of the lumbar spine in vivo during various 3D dynamic tasks.


Professor Darren Stefanyshyn

The following are a series of papers showing early human locomotion inverse dynamics calculations with tremendous insight:

Forces and energy changes in the leg during walking (Elftman, 1939a)

The functions of muscles in locomotion (Elftman, 1939b)

The work done by muscles in running (Elftman, 1940)

A short but though provoking look at the role of elastic energy storage in running, jumping and flying:

Storage of elastic strain energy in muscle and other tissues (Alexander, 1977)

An early review paper on gait energetics from a pioneer in the field:

Calculation and interpretation of mechanical energy of movement (Winter, 1976)


Professor Ronald Zernicke

This paper highlights some of the diverse areas in which "biomechanics impacts society" and the research of five internationally famous biomechanists as the role models. This has proven useful to expose students at the University of Michigan to the breadth and impact of biomechanics, particularly in areas that not everyone associates with "traditional" biomechanics. It may also be useful for other students, around the world, to learn of the diversity of biomechanics.

Impact of biomechanics research on society (Zernicke et al., 2012)


Complete List

Alexander, R. M. (1977) ‘Storage of Elastic Strain Energy in Muscles and Other Tissues’, Nature, 265, pp. 114–117. doi: 10.1038/265114a0

Butler, J. A. V. and Katz, B. (1957) Progress in biophysics and biophysical chemistry. UK: Pergamon Press, Ltd.

Cholewicki, J. and McGill, S. (1996) ‘Mechanical stability of the in viva lumbar spine: implications for injury and chronic low back pain’, Clinical Biomechanics, 11(1), pp. 1–15. doi: 10.1016/0268-0033(95)00035-6

Elftman, H. (1939a) ‘Forces and energy changes in the leg during walking’, American Journal of Physiology--Legacy Content, 125(2), pp. 339–356.

Elftman, H. (1939b) ‘The function of muscles in locomotion’, American Journal of Physiology--Legacy Content, 125(357–366), pp. 122–123.

Elftman, H. (1940) ‘The work done by muscles in running’, American Journal of Physiology--Legacy Content, 129(3), pp. 672–684.

Forscher, B. K. (1963) ‘Chaos in the Brickyard’, Science, 142(3590), p. 339. doi: 10.1126/science.142.3590.339

Goff, C. W. (1963) ‘Human mechanics. Four monographs abridged.’ Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 22(4).

Gordon, A. M., Huxley, A. F. and Julian, F. J. (1966) ‘The variation in isometric tension with sarcomere length in vertebrate muscle fibres.’, The Journal of Physiology, 184(1), pp. 170–192. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1966.sp007909

Grood, E. S. and Suntay, W. J. (1983) ‘A joint coordinate system for the clinical description of three-dimensional motions: application to the knee’, J Biomech Eng, 105(2), pp. 136–144. doi: 10.1115/1.3138397

Hatze, H. (1977) ‘A myocybernetic control model of skeletal muscle’, Biological Cybernetics, 25(2), pp. 103–119. doi:10.1007/BF00337268

Hatze, H. (1981) ‘A comprehensive model for human motion simulation and its application to the take-off phase of the long jump’, Journal of Biomechanics, 14(3), pp. 135–142. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(81)90019-1       

He, J., Levine, W. S. and Loeb, G. E. (1991) ‘Feedback gains for corecting small pertubation to standing posture’, IEEE trans auto con, 36(3), pp. 322–332. doi: 10.1109/9.73565

Hill, A. V. (1938) ‘The Heat of Shortening and the Dynamic Constants of Muscle’, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 126(843), pp. 136–195. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1938.0050

Huxley, A. F. and Niedergerke, R. (1954) ‘Structural changes in muscle during contraction; interference microscopy of living muscle fibres’, Nature, 173(4412), pp. 971–973. doi: 10.1038/173971a0

Huxley, A. F. and Simmons, R. M. (1971) ‘Proposed mechanism of force generation in striated muscle.’, Nature, 233, pp. 533–538. doi: 10.1038/233533a0

van Ingen Schenau, G. J. and Cavanagh, P. R. (1990) ‘Power equations in endurance sports’, Journal of Biomechanics, 23(9), pp. 865–881. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(90)90352-4

Miller, D. I. and Nelson, R. C. (1973) Biomechanics of Sport. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger.

Shapiro, R. (1978) ‘Direct linear transformation method for 3D cinematography’, Research Quarterly. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 49(2), pp. 197–205.

Winter, D. A. (1976) ‘Calculation and interpretation of mechanical energy of movement’, Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 6(1), pp. 183–256.

Winter, D. A. (1983) ‘Energy generation and absorption at the ankle and knee during fast, natural, and slow cadences’, Clinical orthopaedics and related research, 175, pp. 147–154.

Winter, D. A. (2009) Biomechanics and Motor Control of Human Movement. 4th edn. John Wiley & Sons.

Witkin, A. and Kass, M. (1988) ‘Spacetime constraints’, Proceedings of the 15th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques - SIGGRAPH ’88, 22(4), pp. 159–168. doi: 10.1145/378456.378507

Zatsiorsky, V. M. (1998) Kinematics of Human Motion. Human Kinetics.

Zatsiorsky, V. M. (2002) Kinetics of Human Motion. Human Kinetics.

Zatsiorsky, V. M. and Prilutsky, B. I. (2012) Biomechanics of Skeletal Muscles. Human Kinetics.

Zernicke, R. F., Goulet, G. C., Cavanagh, P. R., Nigg, B. M., Ashton-Miller, J. A., Mckay, H. A. and Van Den Bogert, T. (2012) ‘Impact of Biomechanics Research on Society’, Kinesiology Review, 1, pp. 5–16. doi: 10.1123/krj.1.1.5


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