A Threshold and Continuum of Injury During Active Stretch of Rabbit Skeletal Muscle

Carl T. Hasselman, Thomas M. Best, Anthony V. Seaber, William E. Garrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Previous studies of acute muscle injury with active stretch used cyclic stretching or stretching the muscle to complete muscle-tendon dissociation. This study tried to determine minimal force required for skeletal muscle injury with one active stretch to establish an in jury “threshold.” Tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus rabbit muscles were actively stretched at 10 cm/ sec to 60%, 70%, 80%, or 90% of the force required to passively fail tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum lon gus muscles of the control (contralateral) limb. Maximal isometric contractile force, tensile properties, histology, and electromyography were measures of injury. Both muscles of the 60% group showed no abnormalities in maximal isometric contractile force, tensile properties, histology, or electromyographic activity; 70%, 80%, and 90% groups showed diminished maximal isometric con tractile force, muscle fiber disruption, edema, hemor rhage, and decreased electromyographic maximal volt age amplitude. The 90% group also showed alterations in tensile properties at failure along with connective tis sue damage. Injury site included fiber disruption both at the distal myotendinous junction and muscle belly, with injury noted initially at the distal myotendinous junction in the 70% group. Electromyographic studies showed maximal isometric contractile force and maximal volt age correlated well as indices of damage. This study shows that a threshold and continuum for active stretch- induced injury exist, with muscle fiber disruption occur ring initially and connective tissue disruption occurring only with larger muscle displacements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalThe American Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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