The purpose of this study was to clarify whether the major determinant of the extendibility of the Achilles tendon in young adults was the geometric properties of the tendon. The subjects were 38 healthy young adults (26 male, 12 female; 26 ± 5 years). The subjects developed maximum voluntary isometric plantar flexion (MVIP) torque while the displacement of the distal myotendinous junction of the medial gastrocnemius and ankle joint rotation was determined using a B-mode ultrasonograph and a goniometer, respectively. The tendon force (F) was calculated from MVIP torque and the moment arm of Achilles tendon. The elongation of the Achilles tendon (ΔX) was obtained from the tendon displacements and ankle joint rotation. Achilles tendon stiffness (k) was calculated by dividing F by ΔX. The specific stiffness of the Achilles tendon (ks) was obtained from k normalized to the Achilles tendon length at rest. The cross-sectional area of the Achilles tendon (CSA) was measured at 5, 10, and 15% of the lower leg length proximal to the insertion of the Achilles tendon using a B-mode ultrasonography. The results showed that more distal portion of the Achilles tendon had a larger CSA, and that there was a strong correlation between the average and minimum Achilles tendon CSA. ΔX was 9.9 ± 2.5 mm. k and ks were 330 ± 77 N/mm and 63 ± 20 kN, respectively. No significant correlation was seen between CSA and ks (r = 0.15, p > 0.05). It was suggested that a stiffer Achilles tendon did not necessarily have a thicker shape, which might indicate that the major determinant of the extendibility of the Achilles tendon was not its geometric properties in young adults.
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