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Force-length characteristics of in vivo human skeletal muscle

Maganaris, Constantinos N. (2001) Force-length characteristics of in vivo human skeletal muscle. Acta physiolica Scandinavica, 172 (4). pp. 279-85. ISSN 0001-6772

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In the present study, the in vivo force-length relations of the human soleus (SOL) and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles were estimated. Measurements were taken in six men at ankle angles from 30 degrees of dorsiflexion to 45 degrees of plantarflexion in steps of 15 degrees, and involved dynamometry, electrical stimulation, ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). For each muscle and ankle angle studied the following three measurements were carried out: (1) dynamometry-based measurement of maximal voltage tetanic moment, (2) ultrasound-based measurement of pennation angle and fibre length and (3) MRI-based measurement of tendon moment arm length. Tendon forces were calculated dividing moments by moment arm lengths, and muscle forces were calculated dividing tendon forces by the cosine of pennation angles. In the transition from 30 degrees of dorsiflexion to 45 degrees of plantarflexion the SOL muscle fibre length decreased from 3.8 to 2.4 cm and its force decreased from 3330 to 290 N. Over the same range of ankle angles the TA muscle fibre length increased from 3.7 to 6 cm and its force increased from 157 to 644 N. Over the longest muscle fibre lengths reached the force of both muscles remained approximately constant. These results indicate that the intact human SOL and TA muscles operate in the ascending limb and plateau region of the force-length relationship. Similar conclusions were reached when calculating the theoretical operating range of the two muscle sarcomeres in the study.

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