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Muscle-tendon unit stiffness does not independently affect voluntary explosive force production or muscle intrinsic contractile properties

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This study examined the relationship of muscle-tendon unit (MTU) stiffness and explosive force production during voluntary and evoked contractions of the knee extensors. Thirty-four untrained participants performed a series of explosive voluntary and electrically evoked (octets (8 pulses, 300 Hz) via femoral nerve stimulation) isometric contractions. Maximum voluntary force (MVF) was assessed during maximum voluntary contractions. Explosive force production was assessed as the time taken, from force onset (0 N), to achieve specific levels of absolute (25–300 N) and relative force (5%–75% MVF) during the explosive contractions. Ultrasonic images of the vastus lateralis were recorded during 10-s ramp contractions to assess MTU stiffness, which was expressed in absolute (N¬∑mm−1) and relative (to MVF and resting tendon-aponeurosis length) terms. Bivariate correlations suggested that absolute MTU stiffness was associated with voluntary explosive force (time to achieve 150–300 N: r = –0.35 to –0.54, P < 0.05). However, no relationships between stiffness and voluntary explosive force were observed when the influence of MVF was removed, either via partial correlations of absolute values (P ≥ 0.49) or considering relative values (P ≥ 0.14). Similarly, absolute MTU stiffness was related to explosive force during evoked octet contractions (r = –0.41 to –0.64, P < 0.05), but these correlations were no longer present when accounting for the influence of MVF (P ≥ 0.15). Therefore, once maximum strength was considered, MTU stiffness had no independent relationship with voluntary explosive force production or the evoked capacity for explosive force.
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Keywords: contraction musculaire squelettique; electrical stimulation; force musculaire; muscle strength; raideur tendineuse; rate of force development; skeletal muscle contraction; taux de production de la force; tendon stiffness; ultrasonographie; ultrasonography; électrostimulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Group, School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK. 2: School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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