Extramuscular myofascial force transmission within the rat anterior tibial compartment: proximo-distal differences in muscle force

Acta Physiol Scand. 2001 Nov;173(3):297-311. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-201X.2001.00911.x.


Intramuscular connective tissues are continuous to extramuscular connective tissues. If force is transmitted there, differences should be present between force at proximal and distal attachments of muscles. Extensor digitorum longus (EDL), tibialis anterior (TA), and extensor hallucis longus muscles (EHL) were excited simultaneously and maximally. Only EDL length was changed, exclusively by moving the position of its proximal tendon. Distal force exerted by TA + EHL complex was not affected significantly. Proximal and distal EDL isometric force were not equal for most EDL lengths: Fprox - Fdist ranged from 0 to approximately +22.7% of Fprox at higher lengths and from 0 to approximately -24.5% at the lowest lengths. It is concluded that extramuscular connections transmit force from muscle. Significant proximo-distal differences of EDL force remained after repeated measurements, regardless of length order, although their length dependence was altered. Measurements of both proximal and distal EDL force were highly reproducible, if EDL did not attain higher lengths than target length. After being active at high lengths, proximal and distal length-force curves were altered at low lengths but not for the highest length range. Extensor digitorum longus length-active force hysteresis was present for proximal as well as distal EDL measurements with increasing and decreasing isometric length order. Further isolating EDL removed the proximo-distal difference for active EDL force. However a decreased difference for passive EDL force remained, which was ascribed to remaining extramuscular connective tissue linkages. It is concluded that extramuscular myofascial force transmission is an important feature of muscle that is not isolated from its surrounding tissues.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fascia / physiology*
  • Forelimb
  • Hindlimb
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tendons / physiology
  • Tibia