Surface properties affect the interplay between fascicles and tendinous tissues during landing

  • Enzo Hollville
  • Antoine Nordez
  • Gaël Guilhem
  • Jennyfer Lecompte
  • Giuseppe RabitaEmail author
Original Article



Muscle–tendon units are forcefully stretched during rapid deceleration events such as landing. Consequently, tendons act as shock absorbers by buffering the negative work produced by muscle fascicles likely to prevent muscle damage. Landing surface properties can also modulate the amount of energy dissipated by the body, potentially effecting injury risk. This study aimed to evaluate the influence of three different surfaces on the muscle–tendon interactions of gastrocnemius medialis (GM), and vastus lateralis (VL) during single- and double-leg landings from 50 cm.


Ultrasound images, muscle activity and joint kinematics were collected for 12 participants. Surface testing was also performed, revealing large differences in mechanical behavior.


During single-leg landing, stiffer surfaces increased VL fascicle lengthening and velocity, and muscle activity independent of joint kinematics while GM length changes showed no difference between surfaces. Double-leg landing resulted in similar fascicle and tendon behavior despite greater knee flexion angles on stiffer surfaces.


This demonstrates that VL fascicle lengthening is greater when the surface stiffness increases, when performing single-leg landing. This is due to the combination of limited knee joint flexion and lower surface absorption ability which resulted in greater mechanical demand mainly withstood by fascicles. GM muscle–tendon interactions remain similar between landing surfaces and types. Together, this suggests that surface damping properties primarily affect the VL muscle–tendon unit with a potentially higher risk of injury as a result of increased surface stiffness when performing single-leg landing tasks.


Ultrafast ultrasound Muscle mechanics Stiffness Energy dissipation Lengthening contraction Sport surface 





Gastrocnemius medialis


Vastus lateralis


Root mean square



Many thanks to Simon Avrillon and Charly Lecomte for their help in data collection, and Bryce Killen for language editing. We further warmly thank Jérôme Gudin, Paul Ornada and Floryan Carlet for building the experiment area and performing the maintenance and groundskeeping and Frédéric Chasles for his help and availability. Enzo Hollville was funded by the Natural Grass company as part of an industrial program with the French National Agency of Research and Technology in collaboration with the French National Institute of Sport and the University of Nantes.

Author contributions

EH, AN, GG, JL, and GR conceived and designed research; EH and JL performed data collection; EH performed data processing; EH, AN, GG, JL, and GR analyzed data; EH drafted manuscript; EH, AN, GG, JL, and GR revised and approved final version of manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of an independent ethical committee (agreement no. 16/18) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Department, Laboratory Sport, Expertise and Performance (EA 7370)French Institute of Sport (INSEP)ParisFrance
  2. 2.Laboratory ‘Movement, Interactions, Performance’ (EA 4334), Faculty of Sport SciencesUniversity of NantesNantesFrance
  3. 3.Health and Rehabilitation Research Institute, Faculty of Health and Environmental SciencesAuckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.NG LabNatural GrassParisFrance
  5. 5.LBM-Institut de Biomécanique Humaine Georges Charpak, Arts et Métiers ParisTechParisFrance

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