Changes in Fascicle Lengths and Pennation Angles Do Not Contribute to Residual Force Enhancement/Depression in Voluntary Contractions

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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Force enhancement following muscle stretching and force depression following muscle shortening are well-accepted properties of skeletal muscle contraction. However, the factors contributing to force enhancement/depression remain a matter of debate. In addition to factors on the fiber or sarcomere level, fiber length and angle of pennation affect the force during voluntary isometric contractions in whole muscles. Therefore, we hypothesized that differences in fiber lengths and angles of pennation between force-enhanced/depressed and reference states may contribute to force enhancement/depression during voluntary contractions. The purpose of this study was to test this hypothesis. Twelve subjects participated in this study, and force enhancement/depression was measured in human tibialis anterior. Fiber lengths and angles of pennation were quantified using ultrasound imaging. Neither fiber lengths nor angles of pennation were found to differ between the isometric reference contractions and any of the force-enhanced or force-depressed conditions. Therefore, we rejected our hypothesis and concluded that differences in fiber lengths or angles of pennation do not contribute to the observed force enhancement/depression in human tibialis anterior, and speculate that this result is likely true for other muscles too.

Markus Tilp (Corresponding Author) is with the Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary, AB, Canada, and the Institute of Sports Science, Karl-Franzens-University Graz, Graz, Austria. Simon Steib is with the Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary, AB, Canada, and the Institute of Sports Science, Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. Gudrun Schappacher-Tilp is with the Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary, AB, Canada. Walter Herzog is with the Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary, AB, Canada.