Shear Wave Elastography Measures of the Achilles Tendon: Influence of Time of Day, Leg Dominance and the Impact of an Acute 30-Minute Bout of Running
The mechanical properties of human tendons are likely to be influenced by factors known to affect elastic structures, including patterns of loading and unloading during the day. However, the exact scale and relevance of these variables to tendon stiffness remains unclear. The aim of this study was to (1) measure Achilles tendon (AT) stiffness over the course of the day, (2) examine AT stiffness between dominant and non-dominant standing leg tendons and (3) assess the impact of previous activity
... f previous activity on AT stiffness. To assess the impact of time of day and leg dominance, 15 healthy participants (6 females, 9 males; mean age 28 ± 4 year, mean VISA-A score 99.0 ± 1.2) had shear wave elastography (SWE) measures taken at 08:00 h, 12:30 h and 17:00 h on both dominant and non-dominant legs. To assess the impact of exercise, 24 tendons were analysed (7 females, 5 males; mean age 27 ± 4 year, mean VISA-A Score 99.1 ± 1.1) with participants randomly assigned to either a control (CONT) group or a running (RUN) group. The RUN group performed a 30-min run at a subjective intensity of 13–15 on rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale and had SWE measures taken before, immediately after, 6 h 24 h, 48 h and 72 h following the run. There were no significant differences in AT stiffness over the course of a day or between dominant and non-dominant leg. Significant increases in AT stiffness were noted pre-post run (0.27 m/s, 2.95%, p = 0.037). Leg dominance does not affect SWE values from asymptomatic ATs or change throughout a day, but a 30-min run significantly increases AT stiffness. Leg dominance and timing of clinical appointments are unlikely to affect SWE results, however a prior bout of physical activity may cause changes within the AT resulting in a significantly different SWE measure. Clinicians and researchers should be cautious of interpreting SWE results if weight bearing exercise has been performed beforehand.