Are skeletal muscles independent actuators? Force transmission from soleus muscle in the cat

H. Maas, T.G. Sandercock

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    It is unclear if skeletal muscles act mechanically as independent actuators. The purpose of the present study was to investigate force transmission from soleus (SO) muscle for physiological lengths as well as relative positions in the intact cat hindlimb. We hypothesized that force transmission from SO fibers will be affected by length changes of its two-joint synergists. Ankle plantar flexor moment on excitation of the SO was measured for various knee angles (70 -140°). This involved substantial length changes of gastrocnemius and plantaris muscles. Ankle angle was kept constant (80°-90°). However, SO ankle moment was not significantly affected by changes in knee angle; neither were half-relaxation time and the maximal rate of relaxation (P > 0.05). Following tenotomy, SO ankle moment decreased substantially (55 ± 16%) but did not reach zero, indicating force transmission via connective tissues to the Achilles tendon (i.e., epimuscular myofascial force transmission). During contraction SO muscle shortened to a much greater extent than in the intact case (16.0 ± 0.6 vs. 1.0 ± 0.1 mm), which resulted in a major position shift relative to its synergists. If the SO was moved back to its position corresponding to the intact condition, SO ankle moment approached zero, and most muscle force was exerted at the distal SO tendon. Our results also suggested that in vivo the lumped intact tissues linking SO to its synergists are slack or are operating on the toe region of the stress-strain curve. Thus, within the experimental conditions of the present study, the intact cat soleus muscle appears to act mechanically as an independent actuator. Copyright © 2008 the American Physiological Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1557-1567
    JournalJournal of Applied Physiology (1985)
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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