Muscle Stiffness Changes during Isometric Contraction in Frog Skeletal Muscle as Studied by the Use of Ultrasonic Waves
In order to measure muscle stiffness changes with a high time resolution and with minimal disturbance to the contractile mechanism per se, we constructed an apparatus with which the propagation velocity of ultrasonic waves (MHz region) in the longitudinal or transverse direction was measured to serve as a measure of muscle stiffness. The longitudinal muscle stiffness started to increase on stimulation before the onset of isometric force, and reached a maximum before the peak twitch force. Analysis of experimental data indicated that, during an isometric tetanus, the increment of muscle longitudinal stiffness was about 6×107N/m2, a value similar to those obtained by Truong (1974) and Ford et al. (1981) with sinusoidal vibrations (3 kHz) and length steps respectively. This suggests that the increment of muscle longitudinal stiffness during the activation of the contractile system results from the recruitment of an almost non-dispersive elastic component.
In the case of transverse muscle stiffness, on the other hand, it started to decrease on stimulation before the onset of isometric force, and reached a minimum before the peak twitch force. Possible causes of this unexpected result is discussed in relation to the molecular mechanism of muscle contraction.
KeywordsPropagation Velocity Ultrasonic Wave Isometric Contraction Isometric Force Stiffness Measurement
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