Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2023) 22, 28 - 35   DOI: https://doi.org/10.52082/jssm.2023.28

Research article
The Relationship Between Lower Limb Passive Muscle and Tendon Compression Stiffness and Oxygen Cost During Running
Andreas Konrad1,2, , Markus Tilp1, Leutrim Mehmeti2, Nik Mahnič2, Wolfgang Seiberl3, Florian K. Paternoster2
Author Information
1 Institute of Human Movement Science, Sport and Health, Graz University, Graz, Austria
2 Associate Professorship of Biomechanics in Sports, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany
3 Department of Human Sciences, Institute of Sport Science, Universität der Bundeswehr München, Neubiberg, Germany

Andreas Konrad
✉ Institute of Human Movement Science, Sport and Health University of Graz, Mozartgasse 14, A-8010 Graz
Email: andreas.konrad@uni-graz.at
Publish Date
Received: 14-10-2022
Accepted: 26-12-2022
Published (online): 01-03-2023
 
 
ABSTRACT

Studies have reported that a stiff triceps surae muscle and tendon-aponeurosis and also a more compliant quadriceps muscle and tendon-aponeurosis, are related to lower oxygen cost during running. However, to date, no study has investigated in a single experiment how oxygen cost during running is related to the stiffness of the free tendons (Achilles tendon, patellar tendon) and all the superficial muscles of two major muscle groups for running (i.e., quadriceps, triceps surae). Thus, 17 male trained runners/triathletes participated in this study and visited the laboratory on three occasions. On the first day, the participants were familiarized with the tests. On the second day, the passive compression stiffness of the triceps surae muscle (i.e., gastrocnemii), Achilles tendon, quadriceps muscle (i.e., vastii, rectus femoris), and patellar tendon was non-invasively measured using a digital palpation device (MyotonPRO). In addition, an incremental test was applied to test the VO2max of the participants. Thereafter, in the third visit, after at least 48-h of rest, participants performed a 15-min run on the treadmill with a speed reflecting a velocity of 70% VO2max, to assess oxygen costs during running. The Spearman correlation showed a significant negative correlation between passive Achilles tendon compression stiffness and running oxygen consumption, with a large effect size (rρ = -0.52; CI (95%) -0.81 to -0.33; P = 0.03). Moreover, no further significant relationship between oxygen cost during running and the passive compression stiffness of the quadriceps muscle and patellar tendon, as well as the triceps surae muscle, was detected. The significant correlation indicates that a stiffer passive Achilles tendon can lead to a lower oxygen cost during running. Future studies will have to test the causality of this relationship with training methods such as strength training that are able to increase the Achilles tendon stiffness.

Key words: Stiffness, knee extensors, plantar flexors


           Key Points
  • This study was the first to investigate how oxygen cost during running is related to passive muscle and tendon compression stiffness (i.e., free tendons) of two relevant muscle groups for running (i.e., quadriceps, triceps surae).
  • A higher passive Achilles tendon compression stiffness was related to lower oxygen cost during running.
  • Passive patellar tendon compression stiffness and compression stiffness of the quadriceps muscle, as well as compression stiffness of the triceps surae muscle, were not significantly related oxygen cost during running.
 
 
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