The Achilles tendon is mechanosensitive in older adults: adaptations following 14 weeks versus 1.5 years of cyclic strain exercise

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The aging musculoskeletal system experiences a general decline in structure and function, characterized by a reduced adaptability to environmental stress. We investigated whether the older human Achilles tendon (AT) demonstrates mechanosensitivity (via biomechanical and morphological adaptations) in response to long-term mechanical loading. Thirty-four female adults (60-75 years) were allocated to either a medium-term (14 weeks; N=21) high AT strain cyclic loading exercise intervention or a control group (N=13), with 12 participants continuing with the intervention for 1.5 years. AT biomechanical properties were assessed using ultrasonography and dynamometry. Tendon cross-sectional area (CSA) was investigated by means of magnetic resonance imaging. A 22% exercise-related increment in ankle plantarflexion joint moment, along with increased AT stiffness (598.2±141.2 versus 488.4±136.9 N mm(-1) at baseline), Young's modulus (1.63±0.46 versus 1.37±0.39 GPa at baseline) and about 6% hypertrophy along the entire free AT were identified after 14 weeks of strength training, with no further improvement after 1.5 years of intervention. The aging AT appears to be capable of increasing its stiffness in response to 14 weeks of mechanical loading exercise by changing both its material and dimensional properties. Continuing exercise seems to maintain, but not cause further adaptive changes in tendons, suggesting that the adaptive time-response relationship of aging tendons subjected to mechanical loading is nonlinear.

ZeitschriftThe Journal of experimental biology
Seiten (von - bis)1008-1018
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 15.03.2017

ID: 2967900


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