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Interaponeurosis shear strain modulates behavior of myotendinous junction of the human triceps surae.

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Muscle fascicles insert into a sheet-like aponeurosis. Adjacent aponeuroses are structurally in contact with each other, and ultimately merge into a common tendon. Consequently, fascicle shortening in planes of tissue layers in adjacent compartments must cause sliding between aponeuroses parallel to the acting forces. In this study, we used velocity-encoded, phase-contrast, and water-saturated spin-lattice relaxation time-weighted imaging to identify and track fascicle and aponeurosis behaviors of human medial gastrocnemius (MG) and soleus (Sol) during 15° dorsiflexion to 30° plantarflexion contractions of the ankle. Interaponeurosis shear strain, which was defined as the relative displacement of the aponeurosis at the fascicle end points (insertion) of the MG and Sol, was an average of 1.35 ± 0.27% (range 1.12 ∼ 1.87%), indicating that the strain is greater in the aponeurosis of MG fascicle insertion than the Sol. The myotendinous junction (MTJ) displacement increased significantly with decreasing interaponeurosis shear strain (P < 0.05). The magnitude of interaponeurosis shear strain had significant correlation with the temporal difference between the time at which the peak aponeurosis displacement of the MG and Sol occurred (P < 0.05). Our model also indicated that theoretical MTJ displacement varies in relation to temporal difference: no temporal difference caused the largest MTJ displacement and presence of temporal differences indicated a reduction in MTJ displacement. Therefore, we concluded that interaponeurosis shear strain is a mechanism enabling individual muscle contraction and thus specific loading of the tendon and joint.

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