Objective: Muscle hardness measured by a push-in meter is calculated from a force-displacement curve (FDC) based on a two-layer spring model. Since a FDC is not linear, how to set a linear range in the FDC largely affects muscle hardness calculation. The present study investigated the linearity of the FDC to find the best portion relative to muscle thickness (MT) for muscle hardness measurement based on a two-layer spring model. Approach: Forty-seven men (age: 28 ±10 years, height: 176 ±7 cm, body mass: 73 ±11 kg) participated in the present study. Hardness of the biceps brachii muscle was measured at the mid-belly using a push-in meter. The FDC was obtained every 5% up to 50% of the MT, and linear regression equations of ten different portions within the FDC were calculated. The coefficient of determination (R 2 ) of each regression line was compared by ANOVA, and a piecewise linear regression analysis was performed by dividing the identified FDC into three linear segments. Results: One-way ANOVA showed a significant (p < 0.01) main effect in R 2 values of ten regression equations. Post-hoc analyses showed no significant differences in R 2 between 0%-15% MT and 0%-40% MT. While the linearity of the FDC was high between 0%-15% and 0%-40% MT, the highest R 2 value was found at 0%-25% and 0%-30% MT. According to the analysis of three linear segments in the FDC, the mean value of the point between the second and third segments was 28.5 ±4.3% MT. Significance: These results suggested that muscle hardness assessment using a push-in meter should be performed close to 30% MT depth for biceps brachii muscle.
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