Format of Original
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Original Item ID
Hébert-Losier, K, Schneiders, AG, García, JA, Sullivan, SJ, and Simoneau, GG. Influence of knee flexion angle and age on triceps surae muscle fatigue during heel raises. J Strength Cond Res 26(11): 3134–3147, 2012—The triceps surae (TS) muscle-tendon unit is 1 of the most commonly injured in elite and recreational athletes, with a high prevalence in middle-aged adults. The performance of maximal numbers of unilateral heel raises is used to assess, train, and rehabilitate TS endurance and conventionally prescribed in 0° knee flexion (KF) for the gastrocnemius and 45° for the soleus (SOL). However, the extent of muscle selectivity conferred through the change in the knee angle is lacking for heel raises performed to volitional fatigue. This study investigated the influence of knee angle on TS muscle fatigue during heel raises and determined whether fatigue differed between middle-aged and younger-aged adults. Forty-eight healthy individuals aged 18–25 and 35–45 years performed maximal numbers of unilateral heel raises in 0° and 45° KF. Median frequencies and linear regression slopes were calculated from the SOL, gastrocnemius medialis (GM), and gastrocnemius lateralis (GL) surface electromyographic signals. Stepwise mixed-effect regressions were used for analysis. The subjects completed an average of 45 and 48 heel raises in 0° and 45° KF, respectively. The results indicated that the 3 muscles fatigued during testing as all median frequencies decreased, and regression slopes were negative. Consistent with muscle physiology and fiber typing, fatigue was greater in the GM and GL than in the SOL (p < 0.001). However, knee angle did not influence TS muscle fatigue parameters (p = 0.814), with similar SOL, GM, and GL fatigue in 0° and 45° KF. These findings are in contrast with the traditionally described clinical use of heel raises in select knee angles for the gastrocnemius and the SOL. Furthermore, no difference in TS fatigue between the 2 age groups was able to be determined, despite the reported higher prevalence of injury in middle-aged individuals.