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Gender differences in the passive stiffness of the human gastrocnemius muscle during stretch.

Morse, Christopher I. (2011) Gender differences in the passive stiffness of the human gastrocnemius muscle during stretch. European journal of applied physiology, 111 (9). pp. 2149-54. ISSN 1439-6327

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine whether muscle stiffness measured in vivo was different between males and females. Distal displacement of the gastrocnemius medialis myotendinous junction was measured directly using ultrasonography during passive dorsiflexion in eight males and eight females (age range 19-28 years). Plantarflexion torque and myotendinous junction displacement were measured at 5° intervals, where 0° was with the foot at right angles to the tibia. Stiffness of the gastrocnemius medialis muscle was calculated between 0° and 25° of dorsiflexion, and defined as passive plantarflexion torque/distal displacement of the myotendinous junction (N m cm(-1)). Relative muscle stiffness was also calculated as distal displacement relative to resting muscle length, and as passive torque relative to plantarflexion maximal voluntary contraction torque. No significant gender difference was observed in passive dorsiflexion torque, or in passive torque/maximal voluntary torque throughout the range of motion. Distal displacement of the gastrocnemius myotendinous junction was 26% more in females than in males (P < 0.05). Myotendinous junction displacement was 5.0 ± 1.4% of resting gastrocnemius medialis length in females, and 3.9 ± 0.6% in males. Over 25° of passive dorsiflexion, gastrocnemius medialis muscle stiffness was greater in males than in females by 44% (P < 0.05). In conclusion, based on the in vivo assessment of myotendinous junction displacement, passive gastrocnemius medialis muscle stiffness is greater in males than in females.

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