The effect of stretch rate and activation state on skeletal muscle force in the anatomical range

Joel P. Grover, David T. Corr, Hechmi Toumi, David M. Manthei, Ashish L. Oza, Ray Vanderby, Thomas M. Best

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: The effects of stretch rate and activation state on muscle mechanics require further clarification. This subject is of particular interest because of the role of skeletal muscle undergoing eccentric contractions in musculoskeletal injuries. Methods: The present study investigated the force-displacement behavior of rabbit tibialis anterior muscle at three stretch rates (2.5, 10, 25 cm/s) and three activation states (passive, tetanic, denervated). A phenomenological power law model and a dynamic systems model were used to describe the mechanical responses. Findings: The power law model showed excellent agreement with the passive and denervated responses to stretch (Rmean = 0.97). Repeated measures analysis of variance found a difference (P = 0.042) in peak force between the passive and denervated states at a stretch rate of 2.5 cm/s. The dynamic systems model closely fit the tetanized muscle responses (Rmean = 0.95). There was no difference in the displacement at yield (P = 0.83) for the three stretch rates of the tetanized muscle undergoing stretch. Interpretation: Differences between the passive and denervated responses suggest that mechanoreceptors may play a role in stimulating the muscle as it is stretched through the anatomical range. The displacement at yield did not change significantly over a decade range of stretch velocities, suggesting that a strain threshold exists beyond which cross bridges cannot remain bound. The power law and dynamic systems models presented offer mathematically tractable approaches to interpret the response of lengthening skeletal muscle. These findings on active, passive, and denervated muscle point to a possible role of the muscle spindle to tissue mechanical behavior that should be accounted for in future studies of force-elongation behavior of skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-368
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Mechanoreceptors
  • Muscle mechanics
  • Muscle modeling
  • Yielding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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