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Muscle architecture and passive lengthening properties of the gastrocnemius medialis and Achilles tendon in children who idiopathically toe-walk

Harkness-Armstrong, C, Maganaris, C, Walton, R, Wright, D, Bass, A, Baltzopoulos, V and O'Brien, TD (2021) Muscle architecture and passive lengthening properties of the gastrocnemius medialis and Achilles tendon in children who idiopathically toe-walk. Journal of Anatomy. pp. 1-8. ISSN 0021-8782

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Children who idiopathically toe-walk (ITW) habitually operate at greater plantarflexion angles and thus, at shorter muscle-tendon unit (MTU) lengths than typically developing (TD) children. Therefore, it is often assumed that habitual use of the gastrocnemius muscle in this way will cause remodelling of the muscle-tendon architecture compared to TD children. However, the gastrocnemius muscle architecture of children who ITW has never been measured. It is essential that we gain a better understanding of these muscle-tendon properties, to ensure that appropriate clinical interventions can be provided for these children. Five children who ITW (age 8 ± 2 years) and 14 TD children (age 10 ± 2 years) participated in this study. Ultrasound was combined with isokinetic dynamometry and surface electromyography, to measure muscle architecture at common positions and passive lengthening properties of the gastrocnemius muscle and tendon across full range of motion. Regardless of which common condition groups were compared under, both the absolute and normalised to MTU muscle belly and fascicle lengths were always longer, and the Achilles tendon length was always shorter in children who ITW than TD children (p < 0.05; large effect sizes). The passive lengthening properties of the muscle and tendon were not different between groups (p > 0.05); however, passive joint stiffness was greater in children who ITW at maximum dorsiflexion (p = 0.001) and at a joint moment common to all participants (p = 0.029). Consequently, the findings of this pilot study indicate a remodelling of the relative MTU that does not support the concept that children who ITW commonly experience muscle shortening. Therefore, greater consideration of the muscle and tendon properties are required when prescribing clinical interventions that aim to lengthen the MTU, and treatments may be better targeted at the Achilles tendon in children who ITW.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0903 Biomedical Engineering, 1116 Medical Physiology
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Wiley
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2021 10:15
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 05:21
DOI or ID number: 10.1111/joa.13464
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15129
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