A nonlinear rheological assessment of muscle recovery from eccentric stretch injury

David T. Corr, Glen E. Leverson, Ray Vanderby, Thomas M. Best

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: To better understand the mechanical behavior of healing skeletal muscle; specifically the tissue's response after acute eccentric stretch injury. Methods: Rabbit tibialis anterior (TA) muscle tendon units were subjected to an in vivo single stretch (eccentric) injury and mechanically evaluated (constant rate elongation to failure) at 1, 3, and 7 d postinjury. In addition to a traditional linear analysis (linear stiffness and failure load), an existing nonlinear rheological model was modified to interpret the experimental load-to-failure data. The models' performance were evaluated and discussed. Results: No significant injury effect was observed, either within or between groups, across the 7-d healing interval, using the linear analysis. However, interpretation of the data using our nonlinear phenomenological model identified significant changes in mechanical behavior that went undetected by linear analyses. Percent differences, between injured and contralateral control limbs, of model parameter estimates were analyzed. Nonparametric statistical analysis illustrated significant changes in the first-order stiffness (k 1) throughout the 7-d healing interval. Model simulations using mean values of each parameter revealed increased low-load tissue compliance after injury, with a decrease in linear slope that recovered steadily toward control values by day 7. At 7 d postinjury, virtually no differences were observed between injured and sham control tissues. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that acute eccentric injury increases the muscle's compliance 24 h after injury, with a steady recovery to uninjured values by the 7th day, yet these changes went undetected by linear analysis. Therefore, nonlinear analysis is necessary to recognize valuable information contained in the low-load region and to quantify important biomechanical phenomena of stretch-injured healing skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1581-1588
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute strain
  • Phenomenological modeling
  • Strain-stiffening
  • Viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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