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


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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.

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          Most cited references31

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          Coordinated collagen and muscle protein synthesis in human patella tendon and quadriceps muscle after exercise.

          We hypothesized that an acute bout of strenuous, non-damaging exercise would increase rates of protein synthesis of collagen in tendon and skeletal muscle but these would be less than those of muscle myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins. Two groups (n = 8 and 6) of healthy young men were studied over 72 h after 1 h of one-legged kicking exercise at 67% of maximum workload (W(max)). To label tissue proteins in muscle and tendon primed, constant infusions of [1-(13)C]leucine or [1-(13)C]valine and flooding doses of [(15)N] or [(13)C]proline were given intravenously, with estimation of labelling in target proteins by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Patellar tendon and quadriceps biopsies were taken in exercised and rested legs at 6, 24, 42 or 48 and 72 h after exercise. The fractional synthetic rates of all proteins were elevated at 6 h and rose rapidly to peak at 24 h post exercise (tendon collagen (0.077% h(-1)), muscle collagen (0.054% h(-1)), myofibrillar protein (0.121% h(-1)), and sarcoplasmic protein (0.134% h(-1))). The rates decreased toward basal values by 72 h although rates of tendon collagen and myofibrillar protein synthesis remained elevated. There was no tissue damage of muscle visible on histological evaluation. Neither tissue microdialysate nor serum concentrations of IGF-I and IGF binding proteins (IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-4) or procollagen type I N-terminal propeptide changed from resting values. Thus, there is a rapid increase in collagen synthesis after strenuous exercise in human tendon and muscle. The similar time course of changes of protein synthetic rates in different cell types supports the idea of coordinated musculotendinous adaptation.
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            Flexible mechanisms: the diverse roles of biological springs in vertebrate movement.

            The muscles that power vertebrate locomotion are associated with springy tissues, both within muscle and in connective tissue elements such as tendons. These springs share in common the same simple action: they stretch and store elastic strain energy when force is applied to them and recoil to release energy when force decays. Although this elastic action is simple, it serves a diverse set of functions, including metabolic energy conservation, amplification of muscle power output, attenuation of muscle power input, and rapid mechanical feedback that may aid in stability. In recent years, our understanding of the mechanisms and importance of biological springs in locomotion has advanced significantly, and it has been demonstrated that elastic mechanisms are essential for the effective function of the muscle motors that power movement. Here, we review some recent advances in our understanding of elastic mechanisms, with an emphasis on two proposed organizing principles. First, we review the evidence that the various functions of biological springs allow the locomotor system to operate beyond the bounds of intrinsic muscle properties, including metabolic and mechanical characteristics, as well as motor control processes. Second, we propose that an energy-based framework is useful for interpreting the diverse functions of series-elastic springs. In this framework, the direction and timing of the flow of energy between the body, the elastic element and the contracting muscle determine the function served by the elastic mechanism (e.g. energy conservation vs power amplification). We also review recent work demonstrating that structures such as tendons remodel more actively and behave more dynamically than previously assumed.
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              Adaptational responses of the human Achilles tendon by modulation of the applied cyclic strain magnitude.

              Tendons are able to remodel their mechanical and morphological properties in response to mechanical loading. However, there is little information about the effects of controlled modulation in cyclic strain magnitude applied to the tendon on the adaptation of tendon's properties in vivo. The present study investigated whether the magnitude of the mechanical load induced as cyclic strain applied to the Achilles tendon may have a threshold in order to trigger adaptation effects on tendon mechanical and morphological properties. Twenty-one adults (experimental group, N=11; control group, N=10) participated in the study. The participants of the experimental group exercised one leg at low-magnitude tendon strain (2.85+/-0.99%) and the other leg at high-magnitude tendon strain (4.55+/-1.38%) of similar frequency and volume. After 14 weeks of exercise intervention we found a decrease in strain at a given tendon force, an increase in tendon-aponeurosis stiffness and tendon elastic modulus and a region-specific hypertrophy of the Achilles tendon only in the leg exercised at high strain magnitude. These findings provide evidence of the existence of a threshold or set-point at the applied strain magnitude at which the transduction of the mechanical stimulus may influence the tensional homeostasis of the tendons. The results further show that the mechanical load exerted on the Achilles tendon during the low-strain-magnitude exercise is not a sufficient stimulus for triggering further adaptation effects on the Achilles tendon than the stimulus provided by the mechanical load applied during daily activities.

                Author and article information

                Front Physiol
                Front Physiol
                Front. Physiol.
                Frontiers in Physiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                26 June 2018
                : 9
                : 794
                [1] 1Department of Physical Performance, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences , Oslo, Norway
                [2] 2Institute of Biomechanics and Orthopaedics, German Sport University Cologne , Cologne, Germany
                [3] 3Department of Medical Engineering and Technomathematics, Aachen University of Applied Sciences , Aachen, Germany
                [4] 4Neuromuscular Research Centre, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä , Jyväskylä, Finland
                [5] 5The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports , Oslo, Norway
                Author notes

                Edited by: Giuseppe D’Antona, University of Pavia, Italy

                Reviewed by: Anthony John Blazevich, Edith Cowan University, Australia; Emiliano Cè, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy

                *Correspondence: Amelie Werkhausen, amelie.werkhausen@ 123456nih.no

                This article was submitted to Exercise Physiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Physiology

                Copyright © 2018 Werkhausen, Albracht, Cronin, Paulsen, Bojsen-Møller and Seynnes.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 01 March 2018
                : 06 June 2018
                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 36, Pages: 11, Words: 0
                Original Research

                Anatomy & Physiology
                achilles tendon,energy absorption,mechanical buffer,stiffness,tendon properties,energy dissipation


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