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Musculotendinous Stiffness: Its Relationship To Eccentric, Isometric, And Concentric Performance

G. J. Wilson, A. J. Murphy, J. F. Pryor
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The purpose of this study was to quantify the relationship between musculotendinous stiffness and performance in eccentric, isometric, and concentric activities. Thirteen trained subjects performed a series of maximal effort eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscular contractions in a bench press-type movement. Additionally, subjects performed a series of quasi-static muscular contractions in a bench press movement. A brief perturbation was applied to the bar while these isometric efforts were maintained, and the resulting damped oscillations provided data pertaining to each subject's musculotendinous stiffness. Musculotendinous stiffness was significantly related to isometric and concentric performance (r = 0.57–0.78) but not to eccentric performance. These results are interpreted as demonstrating that the optimal musculotendinous stiffness for maximum concentric and isometric activities was toward the stiff end of the elasticity continuum. A stiffer musculotendinous unit may facilitate such performances by improving the force production capabilities of the contractile component, due to a combination of improved length and rate of shortening, and additionally by enhancing initial force transmission.