Isometric Strength - Definition Of Isometric Strength; Physical Strength Assessment In Ergonomics
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Isometric Strength - Definition Of Isometric Strength; Physical Strength Assessment In Ergonomics

  • 1/1/1998

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    Isometric strength is defined as the capacity to produce force or torque with a voluntary isometric (muscle[s] maintain[s] a constant length) contraction. The key thing to understand about this type of contraction and strength measurement is that no body movement occurs during the measurement period. The tested person's body angles and posture remain the same throughout the test. Isometric strength has historically been the type most studied and measured. It is probably the easiest to measure and to understand. Some strength researchers feel that isometric strength data may be difficult to apply to some "real life" situations because in most real circumstances people are moving - they are not static. Other researchers counter that it is equally difficult to determine the speed of movement of a person or group of persons doing a job (each moves in his or her unique manner and speed across the links and joints of the body). Thus, dynamic strength test data collected on persons moving at a different speed and/or in a different posture from the "real world" condition will be just as hard to apply. In truth, neither is better - they are different measurements. Both researchers and users should collect and use data that they understand and that fits their application. Workplace Assessment When a worker is called on to perform a physically demanding lifting task, the external load produces moments - tendencies to produce motion, also called torques - about various joints of the body.(1) Often these moments are augmented by the force of gravity acting on the mass of various body segments. For example, in a biceps curl exercise, the moment produced by the forearm flexors must counteract the moment of the weight held in the hands as well as the moment caused by gravity acting on the forearm's center of mass. To perform the task successfully, the muscles responsible for moving the joint must develop a greater moment than the combined moments of the external load and body segment. It should be clear that, at each joint of the body, there is a limit to the strength that the muscle can produce to move ever-increasing external loads. This concept forms the basis of isometric muscle strength prediction modeling.(1) The following procedures are generally used with this biomechanical analysis technique. First, workers are observed (and usually photographed or video-taped) as they perform physically demanding tasks. For each task the posture of the torso and the extremities are documented at the time of peak exertion. The postures are then re-created using a computerized software package, which calculates the load moments produced at various joints of the body as the task is performed. The values obtained during this analysis are then compared to population norms for isometric strength obtained from a population of industrial workers. In this manner, the model estimates the proportion of the population
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