Plantarflexor Muscle-Tendon Properties are Associated With Mobility in Healthy Older Adults

Lauri Stenroth, Elina Sillanpää, Jamie S McPhee, Marco V Narici, Helena Gapeyeva, Mati Pääsuke, Yoann Barnouin, Jean-Yves Hogrel, Gillian Butler-Browne, Astrid Bijlsma, Carel G M Meskers, Andrea B Maier, Taija Finni, Sarianna Sipilä

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Muscle mass, strength, and power are known determinants of mobility in older adults but there is limited knowledge on the influence of muscle architecture or tendon properties on mobility. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between mobility and plantarflexor muscle-tendon properties in healthy older adults.

METHODS: A total of 52 subjects (age 70-81 years) were measured for 6-minute walk test (6MWT), timed "up and go"-test (TUG), isometric plantarflexion strength, Achilles tendon stiffness, triceps surae muscle architecture, lower extremity lean mass, isometric leg extension strength, and leg extension power. Partial correlations and multivariate regression models adjusted for sex, age, body mass, and height were used to examine the relationship between mobility (6MWT and TUG) and lower limb muscle-tendon properties.

RESULTS: Multivariate regression models revealed that Achilles tendon stiffness (p = .020), plantarflexion strength (p = .022), and medial gastrocnemius fascicle length (p = .046) were independently associated with 6MWT. Plantarflexion strength (p = .037) and soleus fascicle length (p = .031) were independently associated with TUG.

CONCLUSIONS: Plantarflexor muscle-tendon properties were associated with mobility in older adults independent of lower extremity lean mass, leg extension strength, or power. Plantarflexion strength was a stronger predictor of mobility than leg extension strength or power. The novel finding of this study was that muscle architecture and tendon properties explained interindividual differences in mobility. This study highlights the importance of the plantarflexors for mobility in older adults and provides understanding of possible mechanisms of age-related decline in mobility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)996-1002
Number of pages7
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series A : Biological sciences and medical sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • Aged
  • Aging/physiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal/physiology
  • Tendons/physiology
  • Walking


Dive into the research topics of 'Plantarflexor Muscle-Tendon Properties are Associated With Mobility in Healthy Older Adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this