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Elongation differences between the sub-tendons of gastrocnemius medialis and lateralis during plantarflexion in different frontal plane position of the foot

Wolfram, S and Hodson-Tole, EF and Morse, CI and Winwood, KL and McEwan, IM (2019) Elongation differences between the sub-tendons of gastrocnemius medialis and lateralis during plantarflexion in different frontal plane position of the foot. Gait and Posture, 75. pp. 149-154. ISSN 0966-6362

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Abstract

© 2019 Background: Gastrocnemius medialis (GM) and lateralis (GL) act at the ankle complex in the sagittal and frontal planes and there is evidence that their actions can be somewhat uncoupled from each other. Some independence of GM and GL from each other could be advantageous, e.g. to stabilise the ankle complex in unstable walking conditions. Given the compartmentalised structure of the Achilles tendon, the sub-tendons of GM and GL may exhibit different elongation during plantarflexion contractions, particularly with the foot in different frontal plane positions. Research Questions: • Is elongation within a sub-tendon affected by frontal plane foot position? • Does elongation between the two sub-tendons differ? • Are elongation differences between the sub-tendons affected by frontal plane foot position? Methods: Sub-tendon elongation was determined from 18 participants during ramped isometric plantarflexion contractions to 70% of their maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) level with the foot in neutral, inversion and eversion. One-dimensional statistical parametric mapping was applied to determine elongation differences. Results: Elongation within a sub-tendon did not differ in the three foot positions. Elongation was similar between both sub-tendons at very low contraction levels, but GM sub-tendon elongation exceeded GL sub-tendon displacement significantly from 30% MVC. The elongation differences between the sub-tendons were not affected by foot position. Significance: Greater GM sub-tendon elongation is likely caused by the greater force production capability of GM but may also indicate that the sub-tendons of GM and GL have different mechanical properties, which is currently unknown. Elongation differences were contraction level dependent suggesting that contributions of GM and GL to plantarflexion torque may also be contraction level dependent.

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