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Ankle Motion Is Associated With Soft Tissue Displacement in the Dorsal Thigh: An in vivo Investigation Suggesting Myofascial Force Transmission Across the Knee Joint

Lookup NU author(s): Heloise DebelleORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Copyright © 2020 Wilke, Debelle, Tenberg, Dilley and Maganaris.Experiments in cadavers have demonstrated significant mechanical interactions between constituents of myofascial chains. However, evidence for such force transmission effects is scarce under in vivo conditions. The purpose of this trial was to examine the impact of ankle motion on soft tissue displacement of the dorsal thigh. Eleven healthy active individuals (26.8 ± 4.3 years, six males), in prone position and with the knee extended, underwent passive calf stretches (ankle dorsal extension) imposed by an isokinetic dynamometer. High-resolution ultrasound was used to simultaneously capture the displacement of the semimembranosus muscle, which was quantified by means of cross-correlation analysis. Inactivity of the leg muscles was controlled using surface electromyography (EMG). One participant had to be excluded due to major EMG activity during the experiment. According to a one-sample t test testing the difference to the neutral zero position, ankle dorsal extension induced substantial caudal muscle displacements (5.76 ± 2.67 mm, p < 0.0001). Correlation analysis (Spearman), furthermore, revealed a strong association between maximal dorsal extension and semimembranosus motion (rho = 0.76, p = 0.02). In conclusion, the present trial provides initial in vivo evidence for a mechanical force transmission between serially connected skeletal muscles. This means that local alterations of the mechanical tissue properties may modify flexibility in neighboring (superior or inferior) joints.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wilke J, Debelle H, Tenberg S, Dilley A, Maganaris C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Physiology

Year: 2020

Volume: 11

Online publication date: 06/03/2020

Acceptance date: 17/02/2020

Date deposited: 21/09/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1664-042X

Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.


DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00180


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