The co-contraction index of the upper limb for young and old adult cyclists

H. Kiewiet*, V.E. Bulsink, F. Beugels, H.F.J.M. Koopman

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    15 Downloads (Pure)


    Bicycling is a popular and convenient means of transportation amongst the elderly in the Netherlands. However, the uptake of the electric bicycle resulted in an increase of single-sided bicycle accidents amongst the elderly (Veiligheid, 2010). Since elderly are prone to severe injuries, bicycle stability is currently a popular research topic. Three main balance strategies have been proposed in former studies: steering as the primary balance strategy and trunk −and lateral knee movement as secondary balance strategies (Moore et al., 2011; Cain, 2013). Since steering is the primary strategy for bicycle stability, the stiffness of the arms plays an important role in active stability during cycling. It has been shown that the arm stiffness of a passive rider is an important factor on the stability of a bicycle (Doria and Tognazzo, 2014). In the study presented here, the co-contraction index (CCI) of the upper limb for young and old adult cyclist is studied. Data is collected during experiments based on the setup described in (Kiewiet et al., 2014), wherein contact forces, muscle activities and motions of the rider and bicycle are measured for 15 young adult (mean ± sd: 25.3 ± 2.8 yrs) and 15 old adult (mean ± sd: 58.1 ± 2.1 yrs) subjects during unperturbed and perturbed cycling. The arm stiffness is defined as a co-contraction ratio between muscle activity of the m. Biceps Brachii and m. Triceps Lateralis. Results suggest that older adult cyclists use more co-contraction of their arm muscles during cycling, compared to young cyclists. The inter-subject variability of the found CCI was higher for the old adult subject group, compared to the young group. The results support the initial hypothesis that the increase in co-contraction of the upper limb for older cyclists is higher during perturbed cycling compared to unperturbed cycling than for younger cyclists. The findings might give direction towards solutions for increasing the safety and stability for elderly cyclists.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)95-101
    Number of pages7
    JournalAccident analysis & prevention
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


    • Arm stiffness
    • Bicycle stability
    • Co-contraction index
    • Muscle activity
    • 2023 OA procedure


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