Dynamic creep and pre-conditioning of the Achilles tendon in-vivo

J Biomech. 2009 Dec 11;42(16):2813-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2009.08.023. Epub 2009 Sep 16.


Warm-up exercises are often advocated prior to strenuous exercise, but the warm-up duration and effect on muscle-tendon behavior are not well defined. The gastrocnemius-Achilles tendon complexes of 18 subjects were studied to quantify the dynamic creep response of the Achilles tendon in-vivo and the warm-up dose required for the Achilles tendon to achieve steady-state behavior. A custom testing chamber was used to determine each subject's maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) during an isometric ankle plantar flexion effort. The subject's right knee and ankle were immobilized for one hour. Subjects then performed over seven minutes of cyclic isometric ankle plantar flexion efforts equal to 25-35% of their MVC at a frequency of 0.75 Hz. Ankle plantar flexion effort and images from dual ultrasound probes located over the gastrocnemius muscle-Achilles tendon and the calcaneus-Achilles tendon junction were acquired for eight seconds at the start of each sequential minute of the activity. Ultrasound images were analyzed to quantify the average relative Achilles tendon strain at 25% MVC force (epsilon(25%MVC)) for each minute. The epsilon(25%MVC) increased from 0.3% at the start of activity to 3.3% after seven minutes, giving a total dynamic creep of ~3.0%. The epsilon(25%MVC) increased by more than 0.56% per minute for the first five minutes and increased by less than 0.13% per minute thereafter. Therefore, following a period of inactivity, a low intensity warm-up lasting at least six minutes or producing 270 loading cycles is required for an Achilles tendon to reach a relatively steady-state behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / physiology*
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Child
  • Elastic Modulus / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Viscosity
  • Young Adult