The present study aimed to investigate the effects of repetitive muscle contractions on the elasticity of human tendon structures in vivo. Before and after each endurance test, the elongation of the tendon and aponeurosis of vastus lateralis muscle (L) was directly measured by ultrasonography while the subjects performed ramp isometric knee extension up to maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC). Six male subjects performed muscle endurance tests that consisted of knee extension tasks with four different contraction modes: 1) 50 repetitions of maximal voluntary eccentric action for 3 s with 3 s of relaxation (ET1), 2) three sets of 50 repetitions of MVC for 1 s with 3 s of relaxation (ET2), 3) 50 repetitions of MVC for 3 s with 3 s of relaxation (ET3), and 4) 50 repetitions of 50% MVC for 6 s with 6 s of relaxation (ET4). In ET1 and ET2, there were no significant differences in L values at any force production levels between before and after endurance tests. In the cases of ET3 and ET4, however, the extent of elongation after the completion of the tests tended to be greater. The L values above 330 N in ET3 and 440 N in ET4, respectively, were significantly greater after endurance tests than before. These results suggested that the repeated longer duration contractions would make the tendon structures more compliant and that the changes in the elasticity might be not be affected by either muscle action mode or force production level but by the duration of action.
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