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
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2014) 13, 823 - 828

Research article
Does Achilles Tendon Cross Sectional Area Differ after Downhill, Level and Uphill Running in Trained Runners?
Katy Andrews Neves, A. Wayne Johnson , Iain Hunter, J. William Myrer
Author Information
Department of Exercise Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, USA

A. Wayne Johnson
✉ Associate Professor, Department of Exercise Sciences, Brigham Young University, 266 Smith Fieldhouse, Provo, UT 84602, USA
Publish Date
Received: 27-04-2014
Accepted: 05-08-2014
Published (online): 01-12-2014

In this study we examined how hill running affects the Achilles tendon, a common location for injuries in runners. Twenty females ran for 10 min on each of three randomly ordered grades (-6%, 0 and +6%) at speeds selected to match the metabolic rates. Achilles tendon (AT) cross-sectional area (CSA) was imaged using Doppler ultrasound and peak vertical forces were analyzed using an instrumented treadmill. A metabolic cart and gas analyzer ensured a similar metabolic cost across grades. Data were analyzed using a forward selection regression. Results showed similar decreases in AT CSA from pre- to post-run for all three conditions of ~5 to 7% (p = 0.0001). Active peak vertical forces were different across grades (p = 0.0001) with the largest occurring during downhill running and smallest during uphill running. Since changes in AT CSA were not different between grades, each form of running appears equal and acceptable in regards to how the Achilles tendon reacts. That is, the results suggest that the Achilles tendon is affected by downhill, level, and uphill running and a decrease in CSA appears to be a normal response.

Key words: Doppler ultrasound imaging, cross-sectional area, peak vertical force

           Key Points
  • Downhill (- 6%), level and uphill (+ 6%) running at different speeds each caused a statistically significant decrease in the Achilles tendon cross-sectional area in healthy, trained runners.
  • The magnitude of change in Achilles tendon cross-sectional area did not differ between grades when metabolic cost of running was matched.
  • Downhill running resulted in the largest peak vertical force, while uphill running resulted in the smallest.
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