Shock (Augusta, Ga.) | 27 Feb 2013
SJ Obst, RS Barrett and R Newsham-West
INTRODUCTION: Understanding the mechanical and morphological adaptation of the Achilles tendon in response to acute exercise could have important implications for athletic performance, injury prevention and rehabilitation. The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review and critical evaluation of the literature to determine the immediate effect of a single bout of exercise on the mechanical and morphological properties of the Achilles tendon in vivo. METHODS: Five electronic research databases were systematically searched for intervention based studies reporting mechanical and morphological properties of the AT following a single bout exercise bout. RESULTS: Searches revealed 3292 possible articles, 21 met the inclusion criteria. There is evidence that maximal isometric contractions and prolonged static stretching (> 5 min) of the triceps surae complex cause an immediate decrease in Achilles tendon stiffness, while prolonged running and hopping have minimal effect. Limited, but consistent evidence exists indicating that Achilles tendon hysteresis is reduced following prolonged static stretching. Consistent evidence supports a reduction in free Achilles tendon diameter (anterior-posterior) following dynamic ankle exercise and this change appears most pronounced in the healthy tendon and following eccentric exercise. CONCLUSIONS: The mechanical and morphological properties of the Achilles tendon in vivo are affected by acute exercise in a mode and dose dependent manner. Transient changes in Achilles tendon stiffness, hysteresis and diameter following unaccustomed exercise modes and doses may expose the tendon to increased risk of strain injury and impact on the mechanical function of the triceps surae muscle-tendon unit.
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