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Article

Sex Differences in the Morphological and Mechanical Properties of the Achilles Tendon

by 1, 1, 1, 1,2,* and 1,*
1
Key Laboratory of Exercise and Health Sciences of Ministry of Education, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai 200438, China
2
Institute of Sport and Sport Science, University of Freiburg, 79098 Freiburg, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Leonor Gallardo Guerrero and Jorge Garcia-Unanue
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 8974; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18178974
Received: 14 July 2021 / Revised: 18 August 2021 / Accepted: 25 August 2021 / Published: 26 August 2021
Background: Patients with Achilles tendon (AT) injuries are often engaged in sedentary work because of decreasing tendon vascularisation. Furthermore, men are more likely to be exposed to AT tendinosis or ruptures. These conditions are related to the morphological and mechanical properties of AT, but the mechanism remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the effects of sex on the morphological and mechanical properties of the AT in inactive individuals. Methods: In total, 30 inactive healthy participants (15 male participants and 15 female participants) were recruited. The AT morphological properties (cross-sectional area, thickness, and length) were captured by using an ultrasound device. The AT force–elongation characteristics were determined during isometric plantarflexion with the ultrasonic videos. The AT stiffness was determined at 50%–100% maximum voluntary contraction force. The AT strain, stress, and hysteresis were calculated. Results: Male participants had 15% longer AT length, 31% larger AT cross-sectional area and 21% thicker AT than female participants (p < 0.05). The plantarflexion torque, peak AT force, peak AT stress, and AT stiffness were significantly greater in male participants than in female participants (p < 0.05). However, no significant sex-specific differences were observed in peak AT strain and hysteresis (p > 0.05). Conclusions: In physically inactive adults, the morphological properties of AT were superior in men but were exposed to higher stress conditions. Moreover, no significant sex-specific differences were observed in peak AT strain and hysteresis, indicating that the AT of males did not store and return elastic energy more efficiently than that of females. Thus, the mechanical properties of the AT should be maintained and/or improved through physical exercise. View Full-Text
Keywords: Achilles tendon; ultrasound; morphological properties; mechanical properties; sex differences Achilles tendon; ultrasound; morphological properties; mechanical properties; sex differences
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zhang, X.; Deng, L.; Xiao, S.; Li, L.; Fu, W. Sex Differences in the Morphological and Mechanical Properties of the Achilles Tendon. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 8974. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18178974

AMA Style

Zhang X, Deng L, Xiao S, Li L, Fu W. Sex Differences in the Morphological and Mechanical Properties of the Achilles Tendon. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(17):8974. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18178974

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zhang, Xini, Liqin Deng, Songlin Xiao, Lu Li, and Weijie Fu. 2021. "Sex Differences in the Morphological and Mechanical Properties of the Achilles Tendon" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 17: 8974. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18178974

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