Muscle activation and its distribution within human triceps surae muscles

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Sep;99(3):1149-56. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01160.2004. Epub 2005 May 12.


The purposes of this study were 1) to quantify the volume of activated parts within a whole muscle and 2) to examine activated area distributions along the length of muscle. Seven male subjects performed five sets of 10 repetitions of a single-leg calf-raise exercise with the knee fully extended. Transverse relaxation time (T2)-weighted spin echo images were acquired before and immediately after the exercise. A range of pixels with a T2 greater than the mean +1 SD of the region of interest (ROI) from the preexercise image and pixels with a T2 lower than the mean + SD of the ROI from the postexercise image were defined as "active" muscle. The active muscle images were three dimensionally reconstructed, from which the volume of the activated muscle was determined for individual triceps surae (TS) muscles. Our data indicate that approximately 46% of the medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscle was activated during the exercise, with activation of the lateral gastrocnemius (LG) and soleus (Sol) muscles being approximately 35%. In the MG, distal portions had a greater percentage area of activated muscle than the proximal portions (P < 0.05), which was consistent with the results regarding electromyogram activity. In contrast, regional activation differences were not observed in the LG and Sol. These findings suggest that the amounts of activated muscle and its distribution would be different among TS muscles.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / anatomy & histology*
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*