Muscle-specific acute changes in passive stiffness of human triceps surae after stretching

Kosuke Hirata, Eri Miyamoto-Mikami, Hiroaki Kanehisa, Naokazu Miyamoto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: It remains unclear whether the acute effect of stretching on passive muscle stiffness differs among the synergists. We examined the muscle stiffness responses of the medial (MG) and lateral gastrocnemii (LG), and soleus (Sol) during passive dorsiflexion before and after a static stretching by using ultrasound shear wave elastography. Methods: Before and after a 5-min static stretching by passive dorsiflexion, shear modulus of the triceps surae and the Achilles tendon (AT) during passive dorsiflexion in the knee extended position were measured in 12 healthy subjects. Results: Before the static stretching, shear modulus was the greatest in MG and smallest in Sol. The stretching induced significant reductions in shear modulus of MG, but not in shear modulus of LG and Sol. The slack angle was observed at more plantar flexed position in the following order: AT, MG, LG, and Sol. After the stretching, the slack angles of each muscle and AT were significantly shifted to more dorsiflexed positions with a similar extent. When considering the shift in slack angle, the change in MG shear modulus became smaller. Conclusion: The present study indicates that passive muscle stiffness differs among the triceps surae, and that the acute effect of a static stretching is observed only in the stiff muscle. However, a large part of the reduction of passive muscle stiffness at a given joint angle could be due to an increase in the slack length.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-918
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Ankle joint
  • Gastrocnemius
  • Shear modulus
  • Soleus
  • Ultrasound shear wave elastography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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