To determine the shortening velocities of fascicles of the vastus lateralis muscle (VL) during isokinetic knee extension, six male subjects were requested to extend the knee with maximal effort at angular velocities of 30 and 150°/s. By using an ultrasonic apparatus, longitudinal images of the VL were produced every 30 ms during knee extension, and the fascicle length and angle of pennation were obtained from these images. The shortening fascicle length with extension of the knee (from 98 to 13°of knee angle; full extension = 0°) was greater (43 mm) at 30°/s than at 150°/s (35 mm). Even when the angular velocity remained constant during the isokinetic range of motion, the fascicle velocity was found to change from 39 to 77 mm/s at 150°/s and from 6 to 19 mm/s at 30°/s. The force exerted by a fascicle changed with the length of the fascicle at changing angular velocities. The peak values of fascicle force and velocity were observed at ~90 mm of fascicle length. In conclusion, even if the angular velocity of knee extension is kept constant, the shortening velocity of a fascicle is dependent on the force applied to the muscle-tendon complex, and the phenomenon is considered to be caused mainly by the elongation of the elastic element (tendinous tissue).
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