Changes of calf muscle-tendon biomechanical properties induced by passive-stretching and active-movement training in children with cerebral palsy

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Aug;111(2):435-42. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01361.2010. Epub 2011 May 19.


Biomechanical properties of calf muscles and Achilles tendon may be altered considerably in children with cerebral palsy (CP), contributing to childhood disability. It is unclear how muscle fascicles and tendon respond to rehabilitation and contribute to improvement of ankle-joint properties. Biomechanical properties of the calf muscle fascicles of both gastrocnemius medialis (GM) and soleus (SOL), including the fascicle length and pennation angle in seven children with CP, were evaluated using ultrasonography combined with biomechanical measurements before and after a 6-wk treatment of passive-stretching and active-movement training. The passive force contributions from the GM and SOL muscles were separated using flexed and extended knee positions, and fascicular stiffness was calculated based on the fascicular force-length relation. Biomechanical properties of the Achilles tendon, including resting length, cross-sectional area, and stiffness, were also evaluated. The 6-wk training induced elongation of muscle fascicles (SOL: 8%, P = 0.018; GM: 3%, P = 0.018), reduced pennation angle (SOL: 10%, P = 0.028; GM: 5%, P = 0.028), reduced fascicular stiffness (SOL: 17%, P = 0.128; GM: 21%, P = 0.018), decreased tendon length (6%, P = 0.018), increased Achilles tendon stiffness (32%, P = 0.018), and increased Young's modulus (20%, P = 0.018). In vivo characterizations of calf muscles and Achilles tendon mechanical properties help us better understand treatment-induced changes of calf muscle-tendon and facilitate development of more effective treatments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / diagnostic imaging
  • Achilles Tendon / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Ankle / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cerebral Palsy / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Elastic Modulus
  • Exercise Movement Techniques*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Ultrasonography