Purpose: The aim of this study was to estimate muscle and joint forces during a power grip task. Considering the actual lack of quantification of such internal variables, this information would be essential for sports sciences, medicine, and ergonomics. This study also contributed to the advancement of scientific knowledge concerning hand control during power grip.
Methods: A specially designed apparatus combining both an instrumented handle and a pressure map was used to record the forces at the hand/handle interface during maximal exertions. Data were processed such that the forces exerted on 25 hand anatomical areas were determined. Joint angles of the five fingers and the wrist were also computed from synchronized kinematic measurements. These processed data were used as input of a hand/wrist biomechanical model, which includes 23 degrees of freedom and 42 muscles to estimate muscle and joint forces.
Results: Greater forces were applied on the distal phalanges of the long fingers compared with the middle and the proximal ones. Concomitantly, high solicitations were observed for FDP muscles. A large cocontraction level of extensor muscles was also estimated by the model and confirmed previously reported activities and injuries of extensor muscles related to the power grip. Quantifying hand internal loadings also resulted in new insights into the thumb and the wrist biomechanics. Output muscle tension ratios were all in smaller ranges than the ones reported in the literature.
Conclusions: Including wrist and finger interactions in this hand model provided new quantification of muscle load sharing, cocontraction level, and biomechanics of the hand. Such information could complete future investigations concerning handle ergonomics or pathomechanisms of hand musculoskeletal disorders.