Viscoelastic relaxation and recovery of tendon

Ann Biomed Eng. 2009 Jun;37(6):1131-40. doi: 10.1007/s10439-009-9687-0. Epub 2009 Apr 8.


Tendons exhibit complex viscoelastic behaviors during relaxation and recovery. Recovery is critical to predicting behavior in subsequent loading, yet is not well studied. Our goal is to explore time-dependent recovery of these tendons after loading. As a prerequisite, their strain-dependent viscoelastic behaviors during relaxation were also characterized. The porcine digital flexor tendon was used as a model of tendon behavior. Strain-dependent relaxation was observed in tests at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6% strain. Recovery behavior of the tendon was examined by performing relaxation tests at 6%, then dropping to a low but nonzero strain level. Results show that the rate of relaxation in tendon is indeed a function of strain. Unlike previously reported tests on the medial collateral ligament (MCL), the relaxation rate of tendons increased with increased levels of strain. This strain-dependent relaxation contrasts with quasilinear viscoelasticity (QLV), which predicts equal time dependence across various strains. Also, the tendons did not recover to predicted levels by nonlinear superposition models or QLV, though they did recover partially. This recovery behavior and behavior during subsequent loadings will then become problematic for both quasilinear and nonlinear models to correctly predict.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Elasticity
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Swine
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Viscoelastic Substances*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology


  • Viscoelastic Substances