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

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review

Authors

Research units

Details

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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of experimental biology
Volume220
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1008-1018
Number of pages11
ISSN0022-0949
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15.03.2017

ID: 2967900

DOI

View graph of relations