Muscle fascicle strains in human gastrocnemius during backward downhill walking
Journal of applied physiology
Hoffman BW, Cresswell AG, Carroll TJ, Lichtwark GA. Muscle fascicle strains in human gastrocnemius during backward downhill walking. Extensive muscle damage can be induced in isolated muscle preparations by performing a small number of stretches during muscle activation. While typically these fiber strains are large and occur over long lengths, the extent of exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) observed in humans is normally less even when multiple high-force lengthening actions are performed.
... This apparent discrepancy may be due to differences in muscle fiber and tendon dynamics in vivo; however, muscle and tendon strains have not been quantified during muscle-damaging exercise in humans. Ultrasound and an infrared motion analysis system were used to measure medial gastrocnemius fascicle length and lower limb kinematics while humans walked backward, downhill for 1 h (inducing muscle damage), and while they walked briefly forward on the flat (inducing no damage). Supramaximal tibial nerve stimulation, ultrasound, and an isokinetic dynamometer were used to quantify the fascicle length-torque relationship pre-and 2 h postexercise. Torque decreased ϳ23%, and optimal fascicle length shifted rightward ϳ10%, indicating that EIMD occurred during the damage protocol even though medial gastrocnemius fascicle stretch amplitude was relatively small (ϳ18% of optimal fascicle length) and occurred predominantly within the ascending limb and plateau region of the length-torque curve. Furthermore, tendon contribution to overall muscle-tendon unit stretch was ϳ91%. The data suggest the compliant tendon plays a role in attenuating muscle fascicle strain during backward walking in humans, thus minimizing the extent of EIMD. As such, in situ or in vitro mechanisms of muscle damage may not be applicable to EIMD of the human gastrocnemius muscle. muscle fiber dynamics; strain-induced muscle damage; ultrasonography; length-tension relationship; lengthening exercise