European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 11, pp 2299–2308 | Cite as

Post activation potentiation can be induced without impairing tendon stiffness

  • Paulo Gago
  • Anton Arndt
  • Olga Tarassova
  • Maria M. EkblomEmail author
Original Article



This study aimed to investigate conditioning effects from a single 6-s plantar flexion maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) on Achilles tendon stiffness (ATS) and twitch properties of the triceps surae in athletes.


Peak twitch (PT), rate of torque development (RTD), rising time (RT10–90%) and half relaxation time (HRT) were measured from supramaximal twitches evoked in the plantar flexors of 10 highly trained athletes. Twitches were evoked before and at seven occasions during 10 min of recovery after a 6-s MVIC. In a second session, but at identical post-conditioning time points, ATS was measured at 30 and 50 % of MVIC (ATS30% and ATS50%) using an ultrasonography-based method.


The magnitude and duration of the conditioning MVIC on muscle contractile properties were in accordance with previous literature on post activation potentiation (PAP), i.e., high potentiation immediately after MVIC, with significant PAP for up to 3 min after the MVIC. While PT and RTD were significantly enhanced (by 60.6 ± 19.3 and 90.1 ± 22.5 %, respectively) and RT10–90% and HRT were reduced (by 10.1 ± 7.7 and 18.7 ± 5.6 %, respectively) after conditioning, ATS remained unaffected.


Previous studies have suggested that changes in stiffness after conditioning may interfere with the enhancements in twitch contractile properties. The present study, however, provided some evidence that twitch enhancements after a standard PAP can be induced without changes in ATS. This result may suggest that athletes can use this protocol to enhance muscle contractile properties without performance deficits due to changes in ATS.


Potentiation Twitch Tendon Stiffness Isometric 



Analysis of variance


Achilles tendon stiffness


Achilles tendon stiffness at 30 % of maximal voluntary isometric contraction


Achilles tendon stiffness at 50 % of maximal voluntary isometric contraction


Control trials








Half relaxation time


Intra-class correlation coefficients


Maximal voluntary isometric contraction


Medial gastrocnemius


Mega hertz


Compound muscle action potential


Muscle–tendinous junction


Newton meter


Newton meter per millimeter


Peak torque


Post activation potentiation


Rising time


Root mean square


Rate of torque development






Time to peak


Tibialis anterior



This project was financially supported by the Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports (CIF) and Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). Paulo Gago wishes to thank the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Portugal for the Ph.D. grant SFRH/BD/79184/2011. We acknowledge Paul Sandamas´ contribution in developing the algorithm used for calculating Achilles tendon length.

Conflicts of interest

No conflicts of interests, financial or otherwise, are declared by the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paulo Gago
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anton Arndt
    • 2
    • 3
  • Olga Tarassova
    • 2
  • Maria M. Ekblom
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Research Center for Sport, Health and Human DevelopmentUniversity of Beira Interior (UBI/CIDESD)CovilhãPortugal
  2. 2.The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences (GIH)StockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of CLINTECKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden
  4. 4.Department of NeuroscienceKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden

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