The role of Plantaris Longus in Achilles tendinopathy: a biomechanical study

Foot Ankle Surg. 2011 Dec;17(4):252-5. doi: 10.1016/j.fas.2010.08.004. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


Background: The Plantaris Longus Tendon (PLT) may be implicated in Achilles (AT) tendinopathy. Different mechanical characteristics may be the cause. This study is designed to measure these.

Methods: Six PLT and six AT were harvested from frozen cadavers (aged 65-88). Samples were stretched to failure using a Minimat 2000™ (Rheometric Scientific Inc.). Force and elongation were recorded. Calculated tangent stiffness, failure stress and strain were obtained. Averaged mechanical properties were compared using paired, one-tailed t-tests.

Results: Mean stiffness was higher (p<0.001) in the PLT, measuring 5.71 N/mm (4.68-6.64), compared with 1.73 N/mm (1.40-2.22) in AT. Failure stress was also higher (p<0.01) in PLT: 1.42 N/mm(2) (0.86-2.23) AT: 0.20 N/mm(2) (0.16-0.25). Failure strain was less (p<0.05) in PLT: 14.1% (11.5-16.8) than AT: 21.8% (14.9-37.9).

Conclusions: The PLT is stiffer, stronger than AT, demonstrating potential for relative movement under load. The stiffer PLT could tether AT and initiate an inflammatory response.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / physiology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Tendinopathy / etiology*
  • Tendons / physiology