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Am J Vet Res. 2001 Dec;62(12):1859-64.

Effects of exercise on biomechanical properties of the superficial digital flexor tendon in foals.

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  • 1Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the effects of exercise on biomechanical properties of the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) in foals.

ANIMALS:

43 Dutch Warmblood foals.

PROCEDURE:

From 1 week until 5 months of age, 14 foals were housed in stalls and not exercised, 14 foals were housed in stalls and exercised daily, and 15 foals were maintained at pasture. Eight foals in each group were euthanatized at 5 months, and remaining foals were housed together in a stall and paddock until euthanatized at 11 months. After euthanasia, SDFT were isolated and fit in a material testing system. Mean cross-sectional area (CSA) was measured and traction forces recorded. Normalized force at rupture (force(rup)), normalized force at 4% strain, strain at rupture, stress at 4% strain (stress(4%stain)), and stress at rupture were compared among and within groups.

RESULTS:

At 5 months, mean CSA and normalized force(rup) were significantly greater and stress(4%strain) significantly less in the pastured group, compared with the other groups. At 11 months, CSA and normalized force(rup) were not significantly different among groups, because force(rup) increased significantly from 5 to 11 months in the nonexercised group and decreased significantly in the pastured group.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE:

Exercise significantly affected the biomechanical properties of the SDFT in foals. Evenly distributed moderate- and low-intensity exercise at a young age may be more effective for development of strong, flexible tendons in horses than single episodes of high-intensity exercise superimposed on stall rest. This effect may impact later susceptibility to SDFT injury.

PMID:
11763171
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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