In vitro fatigue of human tendons

J Biomech. 1997 Aug;30(8):829-35. doi: 10.1016/s0021-9290(97)00033-x.


The purpose of this study was to determine the fatigue behaviour of human tendons in vitro. The testing was accomplished with the use of specially designed grips and the local measurement of tendon cross-sectional area. Ninety specimens prepared from Extensor digitorum longus (EDL) tendons of the foot were subjected to a cyclic square tension-tension stress waveform at physiological frequencies. The maximum tensile stress was normalised to values corresponding to prescribed levels between 10% and 90% of the calculated ultimate tensile strength (UTS) of 100 MPa. The minimum stress was set at 1% of the UTS. A replication of 10 specimens per stress level allowed the use of statistical models for the distribution of fatigue life. Results followed a linear model, of form S = 101.3 - 14.8 log(N), relating the normalised stress to the median number of cycles to failure, therefore suggesting the absence of an endurance limit. The Weibull distribution was found to describe adequately the probability of failure at each stress level. A model which takes into account in vivo healing was proposed. This model was able to explain the presence of intact tendons throughout the lifetime of an individual.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Foot
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle Fatigue*
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Tensile Strength