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Effect of acute tensile loading on gender-specific tendon structural and mechanical properties.

Burgess, Katherine E.; Graham-Smith, Phillip; Pearson, Stephen J.


Phillip Graham-Smith

Stephen J. Pearson


Stretching is commonly used prior to exercise, as it is thought to reduce the risk of injury, and it is also used in the preconditioning of tendon grafts. As tendon properties have been shown to be different between genders, it is proposed that stretching will differentially affect the structure. Here we examine the effect of acute stretch on the mechanical properties of both male and female medial gastrocnemius tendon. Female [20 years ± 1 (SEM), n = 17] and male (22 years ±1, n = 18) subjects underwent a 5-min passive dorsiflexion stretch. Prior to and post stretch medial gastrocnemius tendon stiffness (K), length (1) and cross-sectional area (csa) were measured using ultrasonography and dynamometry. Stiffness and Young's modulus (ε) were significantly reduced with stretch for both genders (p < 0.05). Females showed significantly (p < 0.05) greater pre- to poststretch decreases in K (22.4 vs. 8, 8%) and e (20.5 vs. 8.4%) in comparison to males. The present results show that stretching acutely reduces stiffness of the medial gastrocnemius tendon in females and males, with females showing significantly greater change. The observed disparity between genders may be due in part to variations in tendon moment arm and intrinsic differences in tendon composition. These differential changes in tendon mechanical properties have functional, motor control, and injury risk implications, as well as possible implications for preconditioning of tendon grafts.


BURGESS, K.E., GRAHAM-SMITH, P. and PEARSON, S.J. 2009. Effect of acute tensile loading on gender-specific tendon structural and mechanical properties. Journal of orthopaedic research [online], 27(4), pages 510-516. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 24, 2008
Online Publication Date Oct 22, 2008
Publication Date Apr 30, 2009
Deposit Date Sep 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 16, 2024
Journal Journal of orthopaedic research
Print ISSN 0736-0266
Electronic ISSN 1554-527X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 4
Pages 510-516
Keywords Stiffness; Young's modulus; Stretching; Sex
Public URL


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