New insights into the behavior of muscle during active lengthening

Biophys J. 1990 Feb;57(2):209-21. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(90)82524-8.


A muscle fiber was modeled as a series-connected string of sarcomeres, using an A. V. Hill type model for each sarcomere and allowing for some random variation in the properties of the sarcomeres. Applying stretches to this model led to the prediction that lengthening of active muscle on or beyond the plateau of the length tension curve will take place very nonuniformly, essentially by rapid, uncontrolled elongation of individual sarcomeres, one at a time, in order from the weakest toward the strongest. Such a "popped" sarcomere, at least in a single fiber, will be stretched to a length where there is no overlap between thick and thin filaments, and the tension is borne by passive components. This prediction allows modeling of many results that have previously been inexplicable, notably the permanent extra tension after stretch on the descending limb of the length tension curve, and the continued rise of tension during a continued stretch.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Models, Biological*
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle Relaxation*
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Myofibrils / physiology*
  • Sarcomeres / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical