Association of Gastrocnemius Muscle Stiffness With Passive Ankle Joint Stiffness and Sex-Related Difference in the Joint Stiffness

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 Japan Institute of Sports Sciences
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Passive ankle joint stiffness is affected by all structures located within and over the joint, and is greater in men than in women. Localized muscle stiffness can be assessed by ultrasound shear wave elastography, and muscle architecture such as fascicle length and pennation angle can be measured by B-mode ultrasonography. Thus, the authors assessed localized muscle stiffness of the medial gastrocnemius (MG) with consideration of individual variability in the muscle architecture, and examined the association of the muscle stiffness with passive ankle joint stiffness and the sex-related difference in the joint stiffness. Localized muscle stiffness of the MG in 16 men and 17 women was assessed at 10° and 20° plantar flexion, neutral anatomical position, and 10° and 20° dorsiflexion. Fascicle length and pennation angle of the MG were measured at these joint positions. Passive ankle joint stiffness was determined by the ankle joint angle–torque relationship. Localized MG muscle stiffness was not significantly correlated with passive ankle joint stiffness, and did not show significant sex-related difference, even when considering the muscle architecture. This finding suggests that muscle stiffness of the MG would not be a prominent factor in determining passive ankle joint stiffness and the sex-related difference in the joint stiffness.

The authors are with the Department of Sports Science, Japan Institute of Sports Sciences, Tokyo, Japan.

Chino (kentaro.chino@jpnsport.go.jp) is corresponding author.
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