Identification of a Threshold for Skeletal Muscle Injury

Thomas J. Noonan, Thomas M. Best, Anthony V. Seaber, William E. Garrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This study was designed to detect the first evidence of injury to muscle induced by passive stretching. Rabbit extensor digitorum longus and tibialis anterior skeletal muscles were subjected to passive stretching at set force levels of 20% or 30% of load to failure. Both tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus muscles that were stretched to 30% exhibited no difference in the three tensile parameters when compared with their con tralateral control specimens. Maximum contractile force was decreased after stretching. Tibialis anterior and ex tensor digitorum muscles that were stretched to 20% of control failure force showed no decrement in the tensile parameters or maximum contractile force. Histology of the extensor digitorum longus muscles stretched to 30% of failure force showed small focal areas of muscle fiber rupture and hemorrhage near the distal myoten dinous junction. Tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus muscle-tendon units stretched to 30% of failure force suffered functional injury as their contractile ability decreased after stretching. In contrast, muscle-tendon units stretched to 20% of failure force suffered no dec rement in contractile ability; therefore, a threshold for passive muscle stretch injury has been found. Further more, changes in contractile properties and histologic assessment appear to be more sensitive predictors of injury than measurement of structural failure properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-261
Number of pages5
JournalThe American journal of sports medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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