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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2001 Aug;85(3-4):226-32.

Is passive stiffness in human muscles related to the elasticity of tendon structures?

Author information

1
Department of Life Science (Sports Sciences), University of Tokyo, Komaba 3-8-1, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan. kubo@idaten.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine in vivo whether passive stiffness in human muscles was related to the elasticity of tendon structures and to performance during stretch-shortening cycle exercise. Passive torque of plantar flexor muscles was measured during passive stretch from 90 degrees (anatomical position) to 65 degrees of dorsiflexion at a constant velocity of 5 degrees.s-1. The slope of the linear portion of the passive torque-angle curve during stretching was defined as the passive stiffness of the muscle. The elongation of the tendon and aponeurosis of the medial gastrocnemius muscle (MG) was directly measured using ultrasonography during ramp isometric plantar flexion up to the voluntary maximum. The relationship between the estimated muscle force of MG and tendon elongation was fitted to a linear regression, the slope of which was defined as the stiffness of the tendon. In addition, the dynamic torques during maximal voluntary concentric plantar flexion with and without prior eccentric contraction were determined at a constant velocity of 120 degrees.s-1. There were no significant correlations between passive stiffness and either the tendon stiffness (r = 0.19, P > 0.05) or the relative increase in torque with prior eccentric contraction (r = -0.19, P > 0.05). However, tendon stiffness was negatively correlated to the relative increase in torque output (r = -0.42, P < 0.05). The present results suggested that passive stiffness was independent of the elasticity of tendon structures, and had no favourable effect on the muscle performance during stretch-shortening cycle exercise.

PMID:
11560074
DOI:
10.1007/s004210100463
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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