Voluntary EMG-to-force estimation with a multi-scale physiological muscle model

Mitsuhiro Hayashibe, David Guiraud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Background: EMG-to-force estimation based on muscle models, for voluntary contraction has many applications in human motion analysis. The so-called Hill model is recognized as a standard model for this practical use. However, it is a phenomenological model whereby muscle activation, force-length and force-velocity properties are considered independently. Perreault reported Hill modeling errors were large for different firing frequencies, level of activation and speed of contraction. It may be due to the lack of coupling between activation and force-velocity properties. In this paper, we discuss EMG-force estimation with a multi-scale physiology based model, which has a link to underlying crossbridge dynamics. Differently from the Hill model, the proposed method provides dual dynamics of recruitment and calcium activation.Methods: The ankle torque was measured for the plantar flexion along with EMG measurements of the medial gastrocnemius (GAS) and soleus (SOL). In addition to Hill representation of the passive elements, three models of the contractile parts have been compared. Using common EMG signals during isometric contraction in four able-bodied subjects, torque was estimated by the linear Hill model, the nonlinear Hill model and the multi-scale physiological model that refers to Huxley theory. The comparison was made in normalized scale versus the case in maximum voluntary contraction.Results: The estimation results obtained with the multi-scale model showed the best performances both in fast-short and slow-long term contraction in randomized tests for all the four subjects. The RMS errors were improved with the nonlinear Hill model compared to linear Hill, however it showed limitations to account for the different speed of contractions. Average error was 16.9% with the linear Hill model, 9.3% with the modified Hill model. In contrast, the error in the multi-scale model was 6.1% while maintaining a uniform estimation performance in both fast and slow contractions schemes.Conclusions: We introduced a novel approach that allows EMG-force estimation based on a multi-scale physiology model integrating Hill approach for the passive elements and microscopic cross-bridge representations for the contractile element. The experimental evaluation highlights estimation improvements especially a larger range of contraction conditions with integration of the neural activation frequency property and force-velocity relationship through cross-bridge dynamics consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number86
JournalBioMedical Engineering Online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sept 4
Externally publishedYes


  • EMG
  • Hill model
  • Multi-scale physiology
  • Muscle force estimation
  • Muscle model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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