Myofascial Loads Can Occur without Fascicle Length Changes

Chris Tijs, Michel Bernabei, Jaap H. van Dieën, Huub Maas

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Abstract

Many studies have shown that connective tissue linkages can transmit force between synergistic muscles and that such force transmission depends on the position of these muscles relative to each other and on properties of their intermuscular connective tissues. Moving neighboring muscles has been reported to cause longitudinal deformations within passive muscles held at a constant muscle-tendon unit (MTU) length (e.g., soleus [SO]), but muscle forces were not directly measured. Deformations do not provide a direct measure of the force transmitted between muscles. We combined two different muscle preparations to assess whether myofascial loads exerted by neighboring muscles result in length changes of SO fascicles. We investigated the effects of proximal MTU length changes of two-joint gastrocnemius (GA) and plantaris (PL) muscles on the fascicle length of the one-joint SO muscle within (1) an intact muscle compartment and (2) a disrupted compartment that allowed measurements of fascicle length and distal tendon force of SO simultaneously. SO muscle bellies of Wistar rats (n = 5) were implanted with sonomicrometry crystals. In three animals, connectivity between SO and GA+PL was enhanced. Measurements were performed before and during maximal excitation of all plantar flexor muscles. In both setups, MTU length of GA+PL did not affect the length of SO fascicles, neither during passive nor active conditions. However, lengthening the MTU of GA+PL increased distal tendon force of SO by 43.3-97.8% (P < 0.001) and 27.5-182.6% (P < 0.001), respectively. This indicates that substantial myofascial force transmission between SO and synergistic muscle can occur via a connective tissue network running parallel to the series of SO sarcomeres without substantial length changes of SO fascicles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-260
Number of pages10
JournalIntegrative & Comparative Biology
Volume58
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

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