Muscular viscoelastic characteristics of athletes participating in the European Master Indoor Athletics Championship



To investigate how the viscoelastic characteristics of muscles (non-neural tone, elasticity and stiffness) vary as a function of age and gender in a sample of track and field master athletes. To compare these findings with data on related sedentary subjects in literature.


A total of 390 athletes (aged 35–99) were assessed during the European Master Athletics Indoor Championship 2016. A non-invasive measurement device called MyotonPro was used to measure tone, stiffness, and elasticity in the biceps brachii and rectus femoris muscles at rest. Linear regression analysis was used to assess the correlation between age and the measured parameters. To compare our results with previously reported data, we stratified participants according to gender and age.


Tone was found to not be dependent on age, whereas stiffness was found to be age dependent. Elasticity was found to be both physical activity and age dependent. Tone (only for men), elasticity, and stiffness were lower in master athletes than in sedentary subjects.


Tone, elasticity, and stiffness change with aging; nevertheless, our findings suggest that physical activity can delay the effects of muscular aging, improving fitness in older people.

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Fig. 1



Biceps brachii


Body mass index


Cross-sectional area




European Master Athletics Championships Indoor


Effect size


Fast Fourier transform


Intra-class correlation coefficients


Rectus femoris






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Correspondence to Marco Gervasi.

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All authors declare no conflict of interest.


This work was partly supported by the fund “Progetti di ricerca DISB 2017”, granted by the Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Urbino, Italy.

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Communicated by Peter Krustrup.

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Gervasi, M., Sisti, D., Amatori, S. et al. Muscular viscoelastic characteristics of athletes participating in the European Master Indoor Athletics Championship. Eur J Appl Physiol 117, 1739–1746 (2017).

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  • Aging
  • Gender
  • Tone
  • Elasticity
  • Stiffness
  • Physical activity