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The influence of simulation model complexity on the estimation of internal loading in gymnastics landings

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journal contribution
posted on 03.07.2009 by Chris Mills, Matthew Pain, Fred Yeadon
Evaluating landing technique using a computer simulation model of a gymnast and landing mat could be a useful tool when attempting to assess injury risk. The aims of this study were: (1) to investigate whether a subject-specific torque-driven or a subject-specific muscle-driven model of a gymnast is better at matching experimental ground reaction forces and kinematics during gymnastics landings, (2) to calculate their respective simulation run times and (3) to determine what level of model complexity is required to assess injury risk. A subject-specific planar seven-link wobbling mass model of a gymnast and a multi-layer model of a landing mat were developed for this study. Subject-specific strength parameters were determined which defined the maximum voluntary torque/angle/angular velocity relationship about each joint. This relationship was also used to produce subject-specific ‘lumped’ muscle models for each joint. Kinetic and kinematic data were obtained during landings from backward and forward rotating gymnastics vaults. Both torque-driven and muscle-driven models were capable of producing simulated landings that matched the actual performances (with overall percentage differences between 10.1% and 18.2%). The torque-driven model underestimated the internal loading on joints and bones, resulting in joint reaction forces that were less than 50% of those calculated using the muscle-driven model. Simulation time increased from approximately 3 min (torque driven) to more than 10 min (muscle driven) as model complexity increased. The selection of a simulation model for assessing injury risk must consider the need for determining realistic internal forces as the priority despite increases in simulation run time.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


MILLS, C., PAIN, M.T.G. and YEADON, M.R., 2008. The influence of simulation model complexity on the estimation of internal loading in gymnastics landings. Journal of Biomechanics, 41 (3), pp. 620-628


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AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This article was published in the serial, Journal of Biomechanics [© Elsevier]. The definitive version is available at:






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