The effect of finger extensor mechanism on the flexor force during isometric tasks

Z. M. Li, V. M. Zatsiorsky, M. L. Latash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The role of the intrinsic finger flexor muscles was investigated during finger flexion tasks. A suspension system was used to measure isometric finger forces when the point of force application varied along fingers in a distal-proximal direction. Two biomechanical models, with consideration of extensor mechanism Extensor Mechanism Model (EMM) and without consideration of extensor mechanism Flexor Model (FM), were used to calculate forces of extrinsic and intrinsic finger flexors. When the point of force application was at the distal phalanx, the extrinsic flexor muscles flexor digitorum profundus, FDP, and flexor digitorum superficialis, FDS, accounted for over 80% of the summed force of all flexors, and therefore were the major contributors to the joint flexion at the distal interphalangeal (DIP), proximal interphalangeal (PIP), and metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints. When the point of force application was at the DIP joint, the FDS accounted for more than 70% of the total force of all flexors, and was the major contributor to the PIP and MCP joint flexion. When the force of application was at the PIP joint, the intrinsic muscle group was the major contributor for MCP flexion, accounting for more than 70% of the combined force of all flexors. The results suggest that the effects of the extensor mechanism on the flexors are relatively small when the location of force application is distal to the PIP joint. When the external force is applied proximally to the PIP joint, the extensor mechanism has large influence on force production of all flexors. The current study provides an experimental protocol and biomechanical models that allow estimation of the effects of extensor mechanism on both the extrinsic and intrinsic flexors in various loading conditions, as well as differentiating the contribution of the intrinsic and extrinsic finger flexors during isometric flexion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1102
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Extensor mechanism
  • Extrinsic muscles
  • Fingers
  • Flexion
  • Force
  • Intrinsic muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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