The purpose of this study was to investigate the dynamics of human muscle-tendon complex (MTC) during stretch-shortening cycle exercises through in vivo observation. A total of seven male subjects performed dorsi flexion followed by plantar flexion at two different frequencies, 0.3 Hz (slow) and 1.0 Hz (fast), in a toe-standing position. The fascicle length (L(F)) of the medial gastrocnemius muscle during the movements was determined using a real-time ultrasonography in vivo. The L(F) at the switching phase from dorsi to plantar flexion was significantly shorter in the fast exercise (54.4 ± 5.5 mm) than in the slow one (58.2 ± 5.4 mm), suggesting that the elongation of tendon structures at that time was significantly greater in the former than in the latter. Furthermore, at the initial stage of plantar flexion during the fast movement, the L(F) hardry changed with a rapid shortening of tendon structures at that time. The observed relation between MTC length and force showed that the behaviour of tendon structures contributed to 20.2 and 42.5% of the total amount of work completed during plantar flexion phase in the slow and fast movements, respectively. Thus, the present results suggest that tendon structures make the dynamics of MTC more efficient during stretch-shortening cycle exercises by changing their lengths.
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