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A comparison of the contractile properties of the human gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.


Twitch speeds and potentiating capacities have been determined for human medial and lateral gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. The experiments involved and application of submaximal stimuli to the respective muscle bellies, with monitoring of the evoked compound action potentials (M-waves) during repetitive stimulation. Contrary to an earlier report, the lateral gastrocnemius was found to have a significantly shorter mean contraction time (100.0 +/- 10.8 ms) than the soleus (156.5 +/- 14.7 ms) and this value was also significantly different from that of the medial gastrocnemius (113.7 +/- 19.6 ms). The mean half-relaxation time for each muscle also differed significantly from those for the other two muscles. A further contrast between the muscles was that potentiation of the twitch, following a 3-s tetanus at 50 Hz, was significantly greater in the lateral gastrocnemius than in soleus (mean values 60.4 +/- 43.1% and 2.6 +/- 3.3% respectively.

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