Mechanical properties of aponeurosis and tendon of the cat soleus muscle during whole-muscle isometric contractions

J Morphol. 1995 Apr;224(1):73-86. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1052240109.


Recent studies have suggested that the mechanical properties of aponeurosis are not similar to the properties of external tendon. In the present study, the lengths of aponeurosis, tendon, and muscle fascicles were recorded individually, using piezoelectric crystals attached to the surface of each structure during isometric contractions in the cat soleus muscle. We used a surgical microscope to observe the surface of the aponeurosis, which revealed a confounding effect on measures of aponeurosis length due to sliding of a thin layer of epimysium over the proximal aponeurosis. After correcting for this artifact, the stiffness computed for aponeurosis was similar to tendon, with both increasing from around 8 F0/Lc (F0 is maximum isometric force and Lc is tissue length) at 0.1 F0 to 30 F0/Lc at forces greater than 0.4 F0. At low force levels only (0.1 F0), aponeurotic stiffness increased somewhat as fascicle length increased. There was a gradient in the thickness of the aponeurosis along its length: its thickness was minimal at the proximal end and maximal at the distal end, where it converged to form the external tendon. This gradient in thickness appeared to match the gradient in tension transmitted along this structure. We conclude that the specific mechanical properties of aponeurosis are similar to those of tendon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cats / anatomy & histology*
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hindlimb / anatomy & histology
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Male
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Tendons / anatomy & histology
  • Tendons / physiology*