Plasticity of human Achilles tendon mechanical and morphological properties in response to cyclic strain

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The purpose of the current study in combination with our previous published data (Arampatzis et al., 2007) was to examine the effects of a controlled modulation of strain magnitude and strain frequency applied to the Achilles tendon on the plasticity of tendon mechanical and morphological properties. Eleven male adults (23.9 ± 2.2 yr) participated in the study. The participants exercised one leg at low magnitude tendon strain (2.97 ± 0.47%), and the other leg at high tendon strain magnitude (4.72 ± 1.08%) of similar frequency (0.5 Hz, 1s loading, 1s relaxation) and exercise volume (integral of the plantar flexion moment over time) for 14 weeks, 4 days per week, 5 sets per session. The exercise volume was similar to the intervention of our earlier study (0.17 Hz frequency; 3s loading, 3s relaxation) allowing a direct comparison of the results. Before and after the intervention ankle joint moment has been measured by a dynamometer, tendon-aponeurosis elongation by ultrasound and cross-sectional area of the Achilles tendon by magnet resonance images (MRI). We found a decrease in strain at a given tendon force, an increase in tendon-aponeurosis stiffness and tendon elastic modulus of the Achilles tendon only in the leg exercised at high strain magnitude. The cross-sectional area (CSA) of the Achilles tendon did not show any statistically significant (P > 0.05) differences to the pre-exercise values in both legs. The results indicate a superior improvement in tendon properties (stiffness, elastic modulus and CSA) at the low frequency (0.17 Hz) compared to the high strain frequency (0.5 Hz) protocol. These findings provide evidence that the strain magnitude applied to the Achilles tendon should exceed the value, which occurs during habitual activities to trigger adaptational effects and that higher tendon strain duration per contraction leads to superior tendon adaptational responses.

ZeitschriftJournal of biomechanics
Seiten (von - bis)3073-3079
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.12.2010

ID: 19177


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