Blood circulation of patellar and achilles tendons during contractions and heating

Keitaro Kubo, Toshihiro Ikebukuro
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2012, 44 (11): 2111-7

PURPOSE: Recent studies using ultrasonography have demonstrated that training-induced changes in the mechanical properties of tendons in plantar flexors (i.e., Achilles tendon) are lower than those in knee extensors (i.e., patellar tendon). However, the mechanisms for these phenomena are unknown. The purpose of this study was to compare changes in blood circulation of patellar and Achilles tendons by repeated muscle contractions and heating.

METHODS: Eleven healthy males participated in this study. During and after repeated muscle contractions (50 repetitions at 50% of the isometric maximum voluntary contraction for 3 s with 3-s relaxations) and heating (20 min), blood volume (total hemoglobin (THb)) and oxygen saturation (StO2) of the patellar and Achilles tendons were measured using red laser lights.

RESULTS: During repeated muscle contractions, StO2 of the patellar tendon decreased significantly, but that of the Achilles tendon did not. During heating, THb and StO2 increased significantly for both tendons. Increases in THb and StO2 of the patellar tendon were significantly higher than those of the Achilles tendon (both P < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: These results demonstrated that changes in blood circulation of the patellar tendon during exercise and heating were higher than those of the Achilles tendon. This result appears to be related to the differences in the plasticity of the mechanical properties of the patellar and Achilles tendons.

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