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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Aug;99(2):665-9. Epub 2005 Mar 24.

Elastic properties of human Achilles tendon are correlated to muscle strength.

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Laboratory of Sports Sciences, Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Meguro, Tokyo, Japan.


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the mechanical properties of the Achilles tendon were correlated to muscle strength in the triceps surae in humans. Twenty-four men and twelve women exerted maximal voluntary isometric plantar flexion (MVIP) torque. The elongation (DeltaX) and strain of the Achilles tendon (epsilon), the proximal part of which is the composite of the gastrocnemius tendon and the soleus aponeurosis, at MVIP were determined from the displacement of the distal myotendinous junction of the medial gastrocnemius using ultrasonography. The Achilles tendon force at MVIP (F) was calculated from the MVIP torque and the Achilles tendon moment arm. There were no significant differences in either the F-DeltaX or F-epsilon relationships between men and women. DeltaX and epsilon were 9.8 +/- 2.6 mm and 5.3 +/- 1.6%, respectively, and were positively correlated to F (r = 0.39, P < 0.05; r = 0.39, P < 0.05), which meant that subjects with greater muscle strength could store more elastic energy in the tendon. The regression y-intercepts for the F-DeltaX (P < 0.01) and F-epsilon (P < 0.05) relationship were significantly positive. These results might indicate that the Achilles tendon was stiffer in subjects with greater muscle strength, which may play a role in reducing the probability of tendon strain injuries. It was suggested that the Achilles tendon of subjects with greater muscle strength did not impair the potential for storing elastic energy in tendons and may be able to deliver the greater force supplied from a stronger muscle more efficiently. Furthermore, the difference in the Achilles tendon mechanical properties between men and women seemed to be correlated to the difference in muscle strength rather than gender.

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