Slower Walking Speed in Older Men Improves Triceps Surae Force Generation Ability

Stenroth, Lauri, Sipilä, Sarianna, Finni, Taija and Cronin, Neil ORCID: 0000-0002-5332-1188 (2017) Slower Walking Speed in Older Men Improves Triceps Surae Force Generation Ability. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 49 (4). pp. 158-166. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001065

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Purpose Older adults walk slower than young adults, but it is not known why. Previous research suggests that ankle plantarflexors may have a crucial role in the reduction of walking speed. The purpose of this study was to investigate age-related differences in triceps surae muscle–tendon function during walking to further investigate the role of plantarflexors in the age-related reduction of walking speed. Methods Medial gastrocnemius and soleus muscle fascicle lengths were measured using ultrasound imaging during walking from 13 young (25 ± 4 yr) men at preferred walking speed and from 13 older (73 ± 5 yr) men at preferred speed and at the young men’s preferred speed. Muscle–tendon unit lengths were calculated from joint kinematics, and tendinous tissue lengths were calculated by subtracting muscle lengths from muscle–tendon unit lengths. In addition, ground reaction forces and electromyographic activity of medial gastrocnemius and soleus were measured. Results In both medial gastrocnemius and soleus, it was observed that at preferred walking speed, older men used a narrower muscle fascicle operating range and lower shortening velocity at the estimated time of triceps surae peak force generation compared with young men. Fascicles also accounted for a lower proportion of muscle–tendon unit length changes during the stance phase in older compared with young men. Significant differences in triceps surae muscle function were not observed between age groups when compared at matched walking speed. Conclusions In older men, walking at preferred speed allows triceps surae muscles to generate force with more favorable shortening velocity and to enhance use of tendinous tissue elasticity compared with walking at young men’s preferred speed. The results suggest that older men may prefer slower walking speeds to compensate for decreased plantarflexor strength.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology > RM695 Physical medicine. physical therapy including massage, exercise, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, phototherapy, radiotherapy, thermotherapy, electrotherapy
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: 16 Oct 2020 15:24
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:09

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