Measurement of muscle and tendon stiffness in man

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Human first dorsal interosseous muscle was stimulated tetanically using several levels of percutaneous electrical current which produced forces in the muscle-tendon complex of between 30% and 100% of maximum. During the tetanus the muscle was subjected to a small fast stretch. The ratio of the force response to the displacement of the muscle-tendon complex gave a measure of the stiffness of the total complex. An adaptation of the method of Morgan (1977) allowed the stiffness to be separated into two components the stiffness of the muscle fibres and the stiffness of the tendon. The results showed that at full activation the stiffness of the muscle fibres and the tendon are approximately the same. The normalised stiffness values obtained in the experiments compared well with animal data.