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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
Clinical Sciences: Clinically Relevant

Evaluation of a new method to create a standardized muscle stretch injury


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Herein we describe a new test system to produce a standardized partial muscle-tendon junction (MTJ) stretch injury. In anesthetized rabbits the tibialis anterior (TA) muscle-tendon unit is unilaterally shortened using a custom designed clamp roller system. An angular displacement (average velocity of 450 °·s-1) is applied about the foot to plantarflex the ankle 90 ° while the lower extremity is fixed. During ankle rotation the TA muscle is tetanically stimulated to generate an eccentric stretch injury at the MTJ. Forty-eight hours after injury, isometric torque deficit(injured/sham) was measured. Two groups of animals (N = 6 in each group) were tested with the only difference between the two groups being the initial tendon shortening. In Group 1 (tendon shortening = 1.2 cm, N= 6) the torque deficit was 36.7 ± 5.9% (mean ± SD). In Group 2(tendon shortening = 1.5 cm, N = 6) the torque deficit was 58.7± 7.4% (mean ± SD). No order effect was suggested by the data(P = 0.6062), but the difference in torque deficit between the two groups was highly significant (P = 0.0001). For all tests in which the tendon was temporarily shortened before muscle stimulation and stretch(N = 12) there was a visible hematoma at the MTJ similar to the injury that is common in athletic injuries. Histological evaluation 48 h after injury revealed both fiber tearing and inflammation at the MTJ. In addition, there was focal fiber damage in the muscle belly for both groups. The damage and inflammatory process, however, were more severe in the group with greater initial tendon shortening.

©1998The American College of Sports Medicine


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