Effect of Training-Induced Changes in Achilles Tendon Stiffness on Muscle–Tendon Behavior During Landing

Werkhausen, Amelie, Albracht, Kirsten, Cronin, Neil ORCID: 0000-0002-5332-1188, Paulsen, Gøran, Bojsen-Møller, Jens and Seynnes, Olivier R. (2018) Effect of Training-Induced Changes in Achilles Tendon Stiffness on Muscle–Tendon Behavior During Landing. Frontiers in Physiology, 9. p. 794. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00794

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During rapid deceleration of the body, tendons buffer part of the elongation of the muscle–tendon unit (MTU), enabling safe energy dissipation via eccentric muscle contraction. Yet, the influence of changes in tendon stiffness within the physiological range upon these lengthening contractions is unknown. This study aimed to examine the effect of training-induced stiffening of the Achilles tendon on triceps surae muscle–tendon behavior during a landing task. Twenty-one male subjects were assigned to either a 10-week resistance-training program consisting of single-leg isometric plantarflexion (n = 11) or to a non-training control group (n = 10). Before and after the training period, plantarflexion force, peak Achilles tendon strain and stiffness were measured during isometric contractions, using a combination of dynamometry, ultrasound and kinematics data. Additionally, testing included a step-landing task, during which joint mechanics and lengths of gastrocnemius and soleus fascicles, Achilles tendon, and MTU were determined using synchronized ultrasound, kinematics and kinetics data collection. After training, plantarflexion strength and Achilles tendon stiffness increased (15 and 18%, respectively), and tendon strain during landing remained similar. Likewise, lengthening and negative work produced by the gastrocnemius MTU did not change detectably. However, in the training group, gastrocnemius fascicle length was offset (8%) to a longer length at touch down and, surprisingly, fascicle lengthening and velocity were reduced by 27 and 21%, respectively. These changes were not observed for soleus fascicles when accounting for variation in task execution between tests. These results indicate that a training-induced increase in tendon stiffness does not noticeably affect the buffering action of the tendon when the MTU is rapidly stretched. Reductions in gastrocnemius fascicle lengthening and lengthening velocity during landing occurred independently from tendon strain. Future studies are required to provide insight into the mechanisms underpinning these observations and their influence on energy dissipation.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Achilles tendon; Energy absorption; Mechanical buffer; Stiffness; Tendon properties; Energy dissipation
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology > QP301.H75 Physiology. Sport
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Rhiannon Goodland
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2020 09:10
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:08
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/8880

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