Transmission of muscle force to fascia during exercise

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2015 Jan;19(1):119-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2014.08.010. Epub 2014 Sep 3.


Objective: As the muscle contracts, fibers get thicker, forcing the fascial tubular layers surrounding the muscle (endomysium, perimysium and epimysium) to expand in diameter and hence to shorten in length. We develop a mathematical model to determine the fraction of force generated by extremity muscles during contraction that is transmitted to the surrounding tubes of fascia.

Methods: Theory of elasticity is used to determine the modulus of elasticity, radial strain and the radial stress transmitted to the fascia.

Results: Starting with published data on dimensions of muscle and muscle force, we find radial stress is 50% of longitudinal stress in the soleus, medial gastrocnemius, and elbow flexor and extensor muscles.

Conclusion: Substantial stress is transmitted to fascia during muscular exercise, which has implications for exercise therapies if they are designed for fascial as well as muscular stress. This adds additional perspective to myofascial force transmission research.

Keywords: Ankle muscles; Elbow muscles; Exercise; Fascia; Force transmission.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elasticity / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fascia / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical