Functional and clinical significance of skeletal muscle architecture

Lieber RL, Fridén J. Functional and clinical significance of skeletal muscle architecture. Muscle & Nerve 23:1647-1666, 2000.

Skeletal muscle architecture is the structural property of whole muscles that dominates their function. This review describes the basic architectural properties of human upper and lower extremity muscles. The designs of various muscle groups in humans and other species are analyzed from the point of view of optimizing function. Muscle fiber arrangement and motor unit arrangement is discussed in terms of the control of movement.

Finally, the ability of muscles to change their architecture in response to immobilization, eccentric exercise, and surgical tendon transfer is reviewed. Future integrative physiological studies will provide insights into the mechanisms by which such adaptations occur. It is likely that muscle fibers transduce both stress and strain and respond by modifying sarcomere number in a way more suited to the new biomechanical environment.