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J Anat. 2001 Oct;199(Pt 4):449-56.

Changes in aponeurotic dimensions upon muscle shortening: in vivo observations in man.

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University of Tokyo, Koniaba, Department of Life Sciences, Japan.


Aponeurotic deformation measurements have traditionally been taken by loading dissected muscles; thus the values obtained may not reflect in vivo function. In the present study, we estimated dimensional changes in the central aponeurosis of the intact human tibialis anterior muscle upon loading induced by muscle contraction. Measurements were taken in seven males, and involved real-time ultrasound scanning of the tibialis anterior muscle at 30 degrees of plantarflexion at rest and during isometric dorsiflexion maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). At each contraction state, the length of the aponeurosis, the width along its length, and its area were estimated from sagittal-plane and axial-plane sonographs. In the transition from rest to MVC, the length of the aponeurosis increased by 7% (P < 0.05), its width increased by up to 21 % (P < 0.05), and its area increased by 17% (P < 0.05). These results indicate that the in vivo tibialis anterior aponeurosis behaves as a compliant material upon active muscle shortening. The methodology employed allows cross-sectional and longitudinal design investigations, circumventing the problems associated with epimysial removal under in vitro experimental conditions.

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