Effect of object width on precision grip force and finger posture

  • Domalain Mathieu
  • Vigouroux Laurent
  • Danion Frederic
  • Sevrez Violaine
  • Berton Eric


This study aimed to define the effect of object width on spontaneous grasp. Participants held objects of various masses (0.75 to 2.25 kg) and widths (3.5 to 9.5 cm) between thumb and index finger. Grip force, maximal grip force and corresponding finger postures were recorded using an embedded force sensor and an optoelectronic system, respectively. Results showed that index finger joints varied to accommodate the object width, whereas thumb posture remained constant across conditions. For a given object mass, grip force increased as a function of object width, although this result is not dictated by the laws of mechanics. Because maximal grip force also increased with object width, we hypothesise that participants maintain a constant ratio between grip force and their maximal grip force at each given width. Altogether we conclude that when the task consists in manipulating objects/tools, the optimal width is different than when maximal force exertions are required.