The Contributions of Individual Muscle-Tendon Units to the Plantarflexor Group Force-Length Properties.


Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, Washington State University, PO Box 646515, Pullman, WA, 99164-6515, USA. [Email]


The combined force-length (F-L) properties of a muscle group acting synergistically at a joint are determined by several aspects of the F-L properties of the individual musculotendon units. Namely, misalignment of the optimal lengths of the individual muscles will affect the group F-L properties. This misalignment, which we named [Formula: see text], arises from the properties of the muscles (i.e., optimum fiber length and pennation angle) and of their tendons (i.e., compliance and slack length). The aim of this study was to measure the F-L properties of kangaroo rat plantarflexors as a group and individually and determine the effects of [Formula: see text] on the group F-L properties. Specifically, we performed a sensitivity analysis to quantify how [Formula: see text] influences the tradeoff between maximizing the peak force vs. having a wider group F-L curve. In the kangaroo rat, we found that the optimal lengths of two bi-articular musculotendon units, the plantaris and the gastrocnemius, were misaligned by 1.8 mm, but this amount favored maximal peak force rather than increasing F-L curve width. Because we measured the misalignment in situ, we could directly assess the tradeoff between maximizing peak force vs. a wider F-L curve without making modeling assumptions about the individual muscle or tendon properties.


Force–length properties,Kangaroo rat,Muscle optimal length,

OUR Recent Articles