The present study aimed to clarify the effects of knee joint angle on the behavior of the medial gastrocnemius muscle (MG) fascicles during eccentric plantar flexions. Eight male subjects performed maximal eccentric plantar flexions at two knee positions [fully extended (K0) and 90° flexed (K90)]. The eccentric actions were preceded by static plantar flexion at a 30° plantar flexed position and then the ankle joint was forcibly dorsiflexed to 15° of dorsiflexion with an isokinetic dynamometer at 30°/s and 150°/s. Tendon force was calculated by dividing the plantar flexion torque by the estimated moment arm of the Achilles tendon. The MG fascicle length was determined with ultrasonography. The tendon forces during eccentric plantar flexions were influenced by the knee joint angle, but not by the angular velocity. The MG fascicle lengths were elongated as the ankle was dorsiflexed in K0, but in K90 they were almost constant despite the identical range of ankle joint motion. These results suggested that MG fascicle behavior during eccentric actions was markedly affected by the knee joint angle. The difference in the fascicle behavior between K0 and K90 could be attributed to the non-linear force-length relations and/or to the slackness of tendinous tissues.
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