European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 112, Issue 4, pp 1485–1494 | Cite as

Length changes of human tibialis anterior central aponeurosis during passive movements and isometric, concentric, and eccentric contractions

  • Markus Tilp
  • Simon Steib
  • Walter Herzog
Original Article


The behavior of aponeuroses during voluntary contractions is still poorly understood and results provided in the literature are controversial. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the behavior of the tibialis anterior aponeurosis during passive movements and active isometric, concentric, and eccentric contractions in vivo. Based on previous findings, we hypothesized that the aponeurosis exhibits behavior that is not consistent with a serial alignment with the contractile element of the muscle. Nine subjects participated in the study and performed contractions on a Biodex-dynamometer. Two ultrasound probes were used to visualize the proximal and distal ends of the tibialis anterior aponeurosis from which length changes were calculated. The main findings were that: (1) During isometric contractions, aponeurosis lengths increased and decreased with increasing and decreasing forces by about 2.8 (±1.5) mm while tendon length changes were much greater and averaged 15 (±3.3) mm, (2) during passive movements, aponeurosis lengths did not change significantly, and (3) despite similar average torque changes during concentric and eccentric contractions, aponeurosis lengths changed by 2.2 mm in concentric but only by 1.2 mm in eccentric contractions. The results of this study did not provide clear evidence for or against a serial alignment of the aponeurosis with the contractile elements. However, at low activation levels during force ramp contractions, there was a small but consistent shortening of aponeuroses with increasing torque. Our findings suggest that aponeurosis length changes do not depend on force alone but depend critically on activation level and the type of contraction.


Ultrasonography Muscle Tendon MVC 



The study was funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF (Project Nr.: J2683), NSERC, and the Canada Research Chair Programme. We want to thank Dr. Gudrun Schappacher-Tilp for her advice in statistics and her wise comments as well as Andrzej Stano for technical support.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Sports ScienceUniversity GrazGrazAustria
  2. 2.Institute of Sports Science and SportsFriedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany
  3. 3.Human Performance LaboratoryUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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