In isokinetic experiments on human subjects, conducted to determine moments that can be exerted about a joint at different angular velocities, joint rotation starts as soon as the moment increases above the resting level. This contraction history differs from the one in experiments on isolated muscle, where the force is allowed to increase to an isometric level before shortening is initiated. The purpose of the present study was to determine the influence of contraction history on plantar flexing moments found during maximal voluntary plantar flexion on an isokinetic dynamometer. In ten subjects, plantar flexing moments were measured as a function of ankle angle at different angular velocities. They were also calculated using a model of the muscle-tendon complex of the human triceps surae. The model incorporates elastic tendinous tissue in series with muscle fibers. The input of the model consists of time histories of active state (the force generating capacity of contractile elements) and shortening velocity of the muscle-tendon complex. Different time courses of active state were offered at fixed length of the muscle-tendon complex. The time course yielding a close match between the calculated rise of plantar flexing moment and the rise measured during fixed angle contractions was used to calculate moment-angle curves for isokinetic plantar flexion. The active state value reached when a peak occurred in calculated moment-angle curves was found to be lower if the angular velocity was made higher. Comparing measured and calculated results, it was concluded that moment-angular velocity diagrams determined in studies of isokinetic plantar flexion in human subjects reflect not only the influence of shortening velocity of contractile elements on the force which can be produced by plantar flexors.
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