Changes in Achilles tendon mechanical properties following eccentric heel drop exercise are specific to the free tendon Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Mechanical loading of the Achilles tendon during isolated eccentric contractions could induce immediate and region-dependent changes in mechanical properties. Three-dimensional ultrasound was used to examine the immediate effect of isolated eccentric exercise on the mechanical properties of the distal (free tendon) and proximal (gastrocnemii) regions of the Achilles tendon. Participants (n = 14) underwent two testing sessions in which tendon measurements were made at rest and during a 30% and 70% isometric plantar flexion contractions immediately before and after either: (a) 3 × 15 eccentric heel drops or (b) 10-min rest. There was a significant time-by-session interaction for free tendon length and strain for all loading conditions (P < 0.05). Pairwise comparisons revealed a significant increase in free tendon length and strain at all contraction intensities after eccentric exercise (P < 0.05). There was no significant time-by-session interaction for the gastrocnemii (medial or lateral) aponeurosis or tendon for any of the measured parameters. Immediate changes in Achilles tendon mechanical properties were specific to the free tendon and consistent with changes due to mechanical creep. These findings suggest that the mechanical properties of the free tendon may be more vulnerable to change with exercise compared with the gastrocnemii aponeurosis or tendon.

publication date

  • 2016