Two questions were addressed in this study: (1) how much strain of the superficial aponeurosis of the human medial gastrocnemius muscle (MG) was obtained during voluntary isometric contractions in vivo, (2) whether there existed inhomogeneity of the strain along the superficial aponeurosis. Seven male subjects, whose knees were extended and ankles were flexed at right angle, performed isometric plantar flexion while elongation of superficial aponeurosis of MG was determined from the movements of the intersections made by the superficial aponeurosis and fascicles using ultrasonography. The strain of the superficial aponeurosis at the maximum voluntary contraction, estimated from the elongation and length data, was 5.6±1.2%. There was no significant difference in strain between the proximal and distal parts of the superficial aponeurosis. Based on the present result and that of our previous study for the same subjects (J. Appl. Physiol 90 (2001) 1671), a model was formulated for a contracting uni-pennate muscle-tendon unit. This model, which could be applied to isometric contractions at other angles and therefore of wide use, showed that similar strain between superficial and deep aponeuroses of MG contributed to homogeneous fascicle length change within MG during contractions. These findings would contribute to clarifying the functions of the superficial aponeurosis and the effects of the superficial aponeurosis elongation on the whole muscle behavior.
ASJC Scopus subject areas