The relationship between passive stiffness and evoked twitch properties: The influence of muscle CSA

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

American College of Sports Medicine 2011 National Conference


American College of Sports Medicine


Denver, CO

Publication Date



Passive stiffness measurements are often used as a clinical tool to examine a muscle's passive lengthening characteristics. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between passive stiffness and evoked twitch properties prior to and following normalization of passive stiffness to muscle cross-sectional area (CSA). Ten healthy volunteers (mean ± SD age = 23 ± 3 year) performed passive range of motion, evoked twitch, and muscle CSA assessments of the plantar flexor muscles. Passive stiffness was determined from the slope of the final 5° of the angle–torque curve. Peak twitch torque (PTT) and rate of torque development (RTD) were determined via transcutaneous electrical stimulation, and muscle CSA was assessed using a peripheral quantitative computed tomography scanner. Pearson product moment correlation coefficients (r) were used to assess the relationships between passive stiffness and PTT and RTD and normalized passive stiffness (passive stiffness ⋅ muscle CSA−1) and PTT and RTD. Significant positive relationships were observed between passive stiffness and PTT (P = 0.003, r = 0.828) and RTD (P = 0.003, r = 0.825). There were no significant relationships between normalized passive stiffness and PTT (P = 0.290, r = 0.372) or RTD (P = 0.353, r = 0.329) demonstrating that stiffness did not account for a significant portion of the variance in twitch properties. Passive stiffness was largely influenced by the amount of muscle tissue in this study. Future studies that examine muscle stiffness and its relationship with performance measures, among different populations, and following various interventions may consider normalizing stiffness measurements to muscle CSA.

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