Fascicle arrangements of vastus lateralis and gastrocnemius muscles in highly trained soccer players and swimmers of both genders

H. Kanehisa, Y. Muraoka, Y. Kawakami, T. Fukunaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


The thickness, fascicle angles of pennation, and fascicle length of the vastus lateralis (VL) and medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles in highly trained soccer players and swimmers of both genders were determined from ulrasonograms to investigate whether the fascicle arrangements of the lower limb muscles in the athletes could be related to the requirements of the events, i.e., intensive muscular activities in the water versus on the ground. In comparisons between the two events, the soccer players tended to show shorter fascicles and greater fascicle angles, and the swimmers thicker muscles and longer fascicles, especially in VL. In both events, the males showed thicker muscles and greater fascicle angles than the females. In both VL and MG, the thickness, fascicle length and fascicle angle were related to each other in a right-angled triangle model, and so, most of the event- and/or gender-related differences observed in the fascicle angle depended on the difference in muscle thickness relative to fascicle length. The present data cannot answer the question of whether the athletes had muscles suited to their respective sports prior to beginning their sports or whether the muscles adapted specifically to the competitive and/or training styles. However, it might be assumed that the lower limb muscles for swimmers are suitable to perform rapid, powerful kick movements during competitive swims by having greater thickness and longer fascicle, i.e., priorities in both force production and shortening velocity, but those for soccer players do not show architectural profiles which can be related to intensive activity on the ground, except that the thickness values exceed the normal range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-95
Number of pages6
JournalInternational journal of sports medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Feb 1



  • Fascicle angle
  • Fascicle length
  • Muscle thickness
  • Ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Cite this