Skeletal muscle mechanics have been studied ever since people have shown an interest in human movement. However, our understanding of muscle contraction and muscle mechanical properties has changed fundamentally with the discovery of the sliding filament theory in 1954 and associated cross-bridge theory in 1957. Nevertheless, experimental evidence suggests that our knowledge of the mechanisms of contraction is far from complete, and muscle properties and muscle function in human movement remain largely unknown.
In this manuscript, I am trying to identify some of the crucial challenges we are faced with in muscle mechanics, offer possible solutions to questions, and identify problems that might be worthwhile exploring in the future. Since it is impossible to tackle all (worthwhile) problems in a single manuscript, I identified three problems that are controversial, important, and close to my heart. They may be identified as follows: (i) mechanisms of muscle contraction, (ii) in vivo whole muscle mechanics and properties, and (iii) force-sharing among synergistic muscles. These topics are fundamental to our understanding of human movement and movement control, and they contain a series of unknowns and challenges to be explored in the future.
It is my hope that this paper may serve as an inspiration for some, may challenge current beliefs in selected areas, tackle important problems in the area of muscle mechanics, physiology and movement control, and may guide and focus some of the thinking of future muscle mechanics research.