Androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS) have been associated with an increased incidence of tendon rupture. The aim of this study was to compare the biomechanical properties of the rat calcaneal tendon (CT), superficial flexor tendon (SFT), and deep flexor tendon (DFT), and to determine the effect of jump training in association with AAS. Animals were separated into four groups: sedentary, trained, AAS-treated sedentary rats (AAS), and AAS-treated and trained animals. Mechanical testing showed that the CT differed from the DFT and SFT, which showed similar mechanical properties. Jump caused the CT to exhibit an extended toe region, an increased resistance to tensional load, and a decreased elastic modulus, characteristics of an elastic tendon capable of storing energy. AAS caused the tendons to be less compliant, and the effects were reinforced by simultaneous training. The DFT was the most affected by training, AAS, and the interaction of both, likely because of its involvement in the toe-off step of jumping, which we suggest is related to the rapid transmission of force as opposed to energy storage. In conclusion, tendons are differently adapted to exercise, but responded equally to AAS, showing reduced flexibility, which is suggested to increase the risk of tendon rupture in AAS consumers.
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.