Mechanical properties of the triceps surae tendon and aponeurosis in relation to intensity of sport activity

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  • Adamantios Arampatzis
  • Kiros Karamanidis
  • Gaspar Morey-Klapsing
  • Gianpiero De Monte
  • Savvas Stafilidis

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The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether the mechanical properties (i.e. force strain relationship) of the triceps surae tendon and aponeurosis relate to the performed sport activity in an intensity-dependent manner. This was done by comparing sprinters with endurance runners and subjects not active in sports. Sixty-six young male subjects (26+/-5 yr; 183+/-6 cm; 77.6+/-6.7 kg) participated in the study. Ten of these subjects were adults not active in sports, 28 were endurance runners and 28 sprinters. All subjects performed isometric maximal voluntary plantar flexion contractions (MVC) on a dynamometer. The distal aponeuroses of the gastrocnemius medialis (GM) was visualised by ultrasound during the MVC. The results showed that only the sprinters had higher normalised stiffness (relationship between tendon force and tendon strain) of the triceps surae tendon and aponeurosis and maximal calculated tendon forces than the endurance runners and the subjects not active in sports. Furthermore, including the data of all 66 examined participants tendon stiffness correlated significantly (r=0.817, P<0.001) with the maximal tendon force achieved during the MVC. It has been concluded that the mechanical properties of the triceps surae tendon and aponeurosis do not show a graded response to the intensity of the performed sport activity but rather remain at control level in a wide range of applied strains and that strain amplitude and/or frequency should exceed a given threshold in order to trigger additional adaptation effects. The results further indicate that subjects with higher muscle strength possibly increase the margin of tolerated mechanical loading of the tendon due to the greater stiffness of their triceps surae tendon and aponeurosis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of biomechanics
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1946-1952
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2007

ID: 18581

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