Is subject-specific musculoskeletal modelling worth the extra effort or is generic modelling worth the shortcut?

Riad Akhundov, David Saxby, Laura Diamond, Suzi Edwards, Phil Clausen, Kate Dooley, Sarah Blyton, Suzanne J Snodgrass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


The majority of musculoskeletal modelling studies investigating healthy populations use generic models linearly scaled to roughly match an individual’s anthropometry. Generic models disregard the considerable variation in musculoskeletal geometry and tissue properties between individuals. This study investigated the physiological implications of personalizing musculoskeletal model geometry (body segment mass, inertia, joint center, and maximum isometric muscle force). Nine healthy athletes performed ten repetitions of 15 meter sprints at 75–95% of their maximum sprinting speed and ten repetitions of unanticipated sidestep cut trials with a 4.5–5.5 m/s approach running speed. Structural magnetic resonance imaging was collected on the lower extremities, from which subject-specific musculoskeletal models were developed. A one-dimensional statistical parametric mapping paired t-test was used to compare generic and subject-specific musculoskeletal models for: lower-limb kinematics, kinetics, torque matching, as well as hamstrings, adductors, and quadriceps muscle activations and fiber dynamics. Percentage change of geometric parameters between generic and subject-specific models were determined. Compared to generic models, subject-specific models showed significantly lower ankle dorsi/plantar flexion angle during sprinting and several significantly different net joint moments during sprint and cut tasks. Additionally, subject-specific models demonstrated better torque matching, more physiologically plausible fiber lengths, higher fiber velocities, lower muscle forces, and lower simulated activations in a subset of investigated muscles and motor tasks. Furthermore, subject-specific models identified between-limb differences that were not identified with generic models. Use of subject-specific modeling, even in healthy populations, may result in more physiologically plausible muscle fiber mechanics. Implementing subject-specific models may be especially beneficial when investigating populations with substantial geometric between-limb differences, or unilateral musculoskeletal pathologies, as these are not captured by a generic model.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0262936
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2022


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