Mechanics of feline soleus: I. Effect of fascicle length and velocity on force output

J Muscle Res Cell Motil. 1996 Apr;17(2):207-19. doi: 10.1007/BF00124243.


The aim of the present study was to quantify how fascicle length and velocity modify force production in cat soleus. A computerized muscle puller controlled the length and velocity of the whole-muscle. We recorded the force output at the tendon and the length of muscle fascicles using sonomicrometry during whole-muscle isometric and isokinetic contractions. Peak muscle stress was estimated as 31.8 +/- 4.1 N cm-2 (mean and SD) and optimal fascicle length, Lo, was estimated as 3.8 +/- 0.6 cm which corresponds to an optimal sarcomere length of 2.49 +/- 0.08 microns. The isometric force-length data followed closely the expected force-length relationship for cat sarcomeres. The force-velocity relationship was found to be similar in shape between cats, but the per cent increment of force over isometric levels for lengthening contractions was highly variable. Estimates of the kinematics of the fascicles based on whole-muscle length were systematically incorrect; whole-muscle velocity was 21% greater than fascicle velocity. The force-velocity data demonstrated consistent dependencies on fascicle length. At lengths below 0.7 Lo (1.74 microns), the shape of the force-velocity relationship was altered by the inclusion of a passive, repulsive force in the estimate of active isometric force. The shape of the force-velocity relationship changed at lengths greater than 0.7 Lo, but was restricted to lengthening velocities where the increment of force with respect to isometric levels was found to increase with fascicle length. This change in shape in the force-velocity relationship for lengthening contractions reveals a systematic, but previously unknown interdependence between fascicle length and velocity on muscle force production.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ankle Joint
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cats
  • Female
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Male
  • Movement*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Sarcomeres / physiology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tendons