The hamstring muscles frequently suffer injury during high-speed running, though the factors that make an individual more susceptible to injury remain poorly understood. The goals of this study were to measure the musculotendon dimensions of the biceps femoris long head (BFlh) muscle, the hamstring muscle injured most often, and to use computational models to assess the influence of variability in the BFlh's dimensions on internal tissue strains during high-speed running. High-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) images were acquired over the thigh in 12 collegiate athletes, and musculotendon dimensions were measured in the proximal free tendon/aponeurosis, muscle and distal free tendon/aponeurosis. Finite element meshes were generated based on the average, standard deviation and range of BFlh dimensions. Simulation boundary conditions were defined to match muscle activation and musculotendon length change in the BFlh during high-speed running. Muscle and connective tissue dimensions were found to vary between subjects, with a coefficient of variation (CV) of 17±6% across all dimensions. For all simulations peak local strain was highest along the proximal myotendinous junction, which is where injury typically occurs. Model variations showed that peak local tissue strain increased as the proximal aponeurosis width narrowed and the muscle width widened. The aponeurosis width and muscle width variation models showed that the relative dimensions of these structures influence internal muscle tissue strains. The results of this study indicate that a musculotendon unit's architecture influences its strain injury susceptibility during high-speed running.
Keywords: Active lengthening; Acute strain injury; Athletes; Finite element model simulation; Hamstrings.
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