Recent studies have demonstrated that muscle force is not determined solely by activation under dynamic conditions, and that length history has an important role in determining dynamic muscle force. Yet, the mechanisms for how muscle force is produced under dynamic conditions remain unclear. To explore how muscle force production is determined under dynamic conditions, we investigated the effects of muscle stiffness, activation, and length perturbations on muscle force. First, submaximal isometric contraction was established for whole soleus muscles. Next, the muscles were actively shortened at three velocities. During active shortening, we measured muscle stiffness at L0 and the force response to time-varying activation and length perturbations. We found that muscle stiffness increased with activation but decreased as shortening velocity increased. The slope of the relationship between maximum force and activation amplitude differed significantly among shortening velocities. Also, the intercept and slope of the relationship between length perturbation amplitude and maximum force decreased with shortening velocities. As shortening velocities were related with muscle stiffness, the results suggest that length history determines muscle stiffness and the history-dependent muscle stiffness influences the contribution of activation to muscle force and the contribution of length perturbations to muscle force. A three-parameter viscoelastic model that included a linear spring and linear damper in parallel with tunable history-dependent spring stiffness proportional to measured muscle stiffness predicted history-dependent muscle force with high accuracy. The results and simulations support the hypothesis that muscle force under dynamic conditions can be accurately predicted as the force response of a history-dependent viscoelastic material to length perturbations.
|Date made available||2022|