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J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2007 Jun;17(3):307-16. Epub 2006 Jun 21.

Effects of joint angle and age on ankle dorsi- and plantar-flexor strength.

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Laboratoire INSERM-ERM 207 Motricité-Plasticité, Faculté des Sciences du Sport, Université de Bourgogne, BP 27 877, 21 078 Dijon, France.


This study aimed at examining the effects of joint angle and age on the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque, for the agonist and antagonist muscle groups around the ankle, i.e., the dorsi- and plantar-flexors. To this aim, neural and muscular factors were investigated in two groups of healthy men: 11 young (mean age, 24 years) and 18 older (mean age, 78 years). Plantar-flexion (PF) and dorsiflexion (DF) isometric MVC torques were measured in three different ankle joint angles and surface electromyographic activities of the triceps surae and of the tibialis anterior muscles were recorded. The main findings were that the DF-to-PF MVC torque ratio varied with joint angle and age, indicating that aging affected at different rates the two muscle groups: this ratio was always higher in older adults because of the PF strength decline with aging. Furthermore, the DF MVC torque-angle relationship appeared to be especially explained by neural factors, whereas the relationship in PF seemed to be mainly due to muscular parameters. These relationships would not be a discriminating factor between the two age groups. As a consequence, measurements at one ankle joint angle, whatever the angle, are thus enough to examine the differences within age groups and to perform a rapid assessment of the imbalance at the ankle joint.

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