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Sara B. Giordano, Richard L. Segal and Thomas A. Abelew

The purpose of this study was to investigate the end-point force trajectories of the fibularis longus (FIB), lateral gastrocnemius (LG), and medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles. Most information about individual muscle function has come from studies that use models based on electromyographic (EMG) recordings. In this study (N = 20 subjects) we used electrical stimulation (20 Hz) to elicit activity in individual muscles, recorded the end-point forces at the foot, and verified the selectivity of stimulation by using magnetic resonance imaging. Unexpectedly, no significant differences were found between LG and MG force directions. Stimulation of LG and MG resulted in downward and medial or lateral forces depending on the subject. We found FIB end-point forces to be significantly different from those of LG and MG. In all subjects, stimulation of FIB resulted in downward and lateral forces. Based on our results, we suggest that there are multiple factors determining when and whether LG or MG will produce a medial or lateral force and FIB consistently plays a significant role in eversion/abduction and plantar flexion. We suggest that the intersubject variability we found is not simply an artifact of experimental or technical error but is functionally relevant and should be addressed in future studies and models.

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Marie A. Johanson, Brian J. Cuda, Jonathan E. Koontz, Julia C. Stell and Thomas A. Abelew


Stretching exercises are commonly prescribed for patients and healthy individuals with limited extensibility of the gastrocnemius muscle.


To determine effects of gastrocnemius stretching on ankle dorsiflexion, knee extension, and gastrocnemius muscle activity during gait.


Randomized-control trial.


Biomechanical laboratory.


Sixteen volunteers (9 men and 7 women, mean age = 27 y) with less than 5° of passive ankle-dorsiflexion range of motion randomly assigned to an experimental or control group.


The experimental group performed gastrocnemius stretching for 3 wk.

Main Outcome Measures:

Maximum ankle dorsiflexion, maximum knee extension, and EMG amplitude of the gastrocnemius muscles were measured between heel strike and heel-off before and after intervention.


No significant effect of group or time was found on maximum ankle dorsiflexion, maximum knee extension, or EMG activity of the medial or lateral gastrocnemius muscles between heel strike and heel-off. The experimental group had significantly greater passive ankle-dorsiflexion range of motion bilaterally at posttest than the control group.


Stretching did not alter joint angles or gastrocnemius muscle activity in the early to midstance phase of gait.