The influence of patellar tendon and muscle-tendon unit stiffness on quadriceps explosive strength in man

MASSEY, Garry J., BALSHAW, Thomas G., MADEN-WILKINSON, Tom, TILLIN, Neale A. and FOLLAND, Jonathan P. (2017). The influence of patellar tendon and muscle-tendon unit stiffness on quadriceps explosive strength in man. Experimental Physiology, 102 (4), 448-461.

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What is the central question of this study? Do tendon and/or muscle–tendon unit stiffness influence rate of torque development? What is the main finding and its importance? In our experimental conditions, some measures of relative (to maximal voluntary torque and tissue length) muscle–tendon unit stiffness had small correlations with voluntary/evoked rate of torque development over matching torque increments. However, absolute and relative tendon stiffness were unrelated to voluntary and evoked rate of torque development. Therefore, the muscle aponeurosis but not free tendon influences the relative rate of torque development. Factors other than tissue stiffness more strongly determine the absolute rate of torque development. The influence of musculotendinous tissue stiffness on contractile rate of torque development (RTD) remains opaque. In this study, we examined the relationships between both patellar tendon (PT) and vastus lateralis muscle–tendon unit (MTU) stiffness and the voluntary and evoked knee-extension RTD. Fifty-two healthy untrained men completed duplicate laboratory sessions. Absolute and relative RTD were measured at 50 N m or 25% maximal voluntary torque (MVT) increments from onset and sequentially during explosive voluntary and evoked octet isometric contractions (supramaximal stimulation; eight pulses at 300 Hz). Isometric MVT was also assessed. Patellar tendon and MTU stiffness were derived from simultaneous force and ultrasound recordings of the PT and vastus lateralis aponeurosis during constant RTD ramp contractions. Absolute and relative (to MVT and resting tissue length) stiffness (k) was measured over identical torque increments as RTD. Pearson's correlations tested relationships between stiffness and RTD measurements over matching absolute/relative torque increments. Absolute and relative PT k were unrelated to equivalent voluntary/evoked (r = 0.020–0.255, P = 0.069–0.891). Absolute MTU k was unrelated to voluntary or evoked RTD (r ≤ 0.191, P ≥ 0.184), but some measures of relative MTU k were related to relative voluntary/evoked RTD (e.g. RTD for 25–50% MVT, r = 0.374/0.353, P = 0.007/0.014). In conclusion, relative MTU k explained a small proportion of the variance in relative voluntary and evoked RTD (both ≤19%), despite no association of absolute MTU k or absolute/relative PT k with equivalent RTD measures. Therefore, the muscle-aponeurosis component but not free tendon was associated with relative RTD, although it seems that an overriding influence of MVT negated any relationship of absolute MTU k and absolute RTD.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Sport and Exercise Science
Identification Number:
Page Range: 448-461
Depositing User: Tom Maden-Wilkinson
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2017 14:01
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 04:20

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