Effects of resistance and stretching training programmes on the viscoelastic properties of human tendon structures in vivo

J Physiol. 2002 Jan 1;538(Pt 1):219-26. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2001.012703.


The present study examined whether resistance and stretching training programmes altered the viscoelastic properties of human tendon structures in vivo. Eight subjects completed 8 weeks (4 days per week) of resistance training which consisted of unilateral plantar flexion at 70 % of one repetition maximum with 10 repetitions per set (5 sets per day). They performed resistance training (RT) on one side and resistance training and static stretching training (RST; 10 min per day, 7 days per week) on the other side. Before and after training, the elongation of the tendon structures in the medial gastrocnemius muscle was directly measured using ultrasonography, while the subjects performed ramp isometric plantar flexion up to the voluntary maximum, followed by a ramp relaxation. The relationship between estimated muscle force (F(m)) and tendon elongation (L) was fitted to a linear regression, the slope of which was defined as stiffness. The hysteresis was calculated as the ratio of the area within the F(m)-L loop to the area beneath the load portion of the curve. The stiffness increased significantly by 18.8 +/- 10.4 % for RT and 15.3 +/- 9.3 % for RST. There was no significant difference in the relative increase of stiffness between RT and RST. The hysteresis, on the other hand, decreased 17 +/- 20 % for RST, but was unchanged for RT. These results suggested that the resistance training increased the stiffness of tendon structures as well as muscle strength and size, and the stretching training affected the viscosity of tendon structures but not the elasticity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Elasticity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tendons / diagnostic imaging
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Viscosity
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*