Int J Sports Med
DOI: 10.1055/a-1270-7568
Orthopedics & Biomechanics

Achilles Tendon Adaptation to Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation: Morphological and Mechanical Changes

Adrien Létocart
,
Jean-Francois Grosset

Abstract

It remains unclear whether neuromuscular electrical stimulation can induce sufficient tendon stress to lead to tendon adaptations. Thus, we investigated the effect of such a training program on the triceps surae muscle following the morphological and mechanical properties of the Achilles tendon. Eight men participated in a 12-week high-frequency neuromuscular electrical stimulation training program of the triceps surae muscle under isometric conditions. Ultrasonography was used pre- and post-intervention to quantify cross-sectional area, free length, and total length of the Achilles tendon, as well as the myotendinous junction elongation during a maximal isometric ramp contraction under plantar flexion. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation training does not lead to changes in Achilles tendon free and total length, cross-sectional area, or maximal elongation capacity. However, a significant increase was evidenced in maximal tendon force post-training (+25.2%). Hence, Young’s Modulus and maximal stress were significantly greater after training (+12.4% and +23.4%, respectively). High-frequency neuromuscular electrical stimulation training induces repeated stress sufficient to lead to adaptations of mechanical properties of the Achilles tendon. Thus, this training technique may be of particular interest as a new rehabilitation method in tendinopathy management or to counteract the effect of hypo-activity.



Publication History

Received: 19 April 2020

Accepted: 18 September 2020

Publication Date:
07 December 2020 (online)

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