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Manipulating resistance training mechanics to optimise muscle-tendon function and performance

   Faculty of Life and Health Sciences

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  Dr Rodney Kennedy, Dr Gerard McMahon  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This studentship is based in Belfast. 

Muscle and tendon function together as a single unit to bring about movement in humans. Both the properties of muscle and the mechanical properties of tendon affect the performance of common athletic tasks such as jumping and running (Kubo et al.2007). Therefore optimising their adaptation with a view to improving performance is key. Consistent evidence indicates that human tendon alters its morphology and mechanical properties in a strain-magnitude–dependent manner applied during exercise (Arampatzis al. 2007; Arampatzis et al. 2010; McMahon et al. 2013). Specifically, evidence in the achilles tendon has shown that following several weeks of resistance training at low strains (~3%) do not appear to alter mechanical properties (such as stiffness) of tendon, whereas higher strains (4.5 – 6.5%) proved successful (Arampatzis et al. 2007; 2010) Therefore, high strain resistance exercise in particular may provide the necessary strain for altering the morphology and mechanical properties of tendons to enhance function. Despite this evidence, further research is necessary to decipher the regulation of tendon mechanical properties and morphology in other tendons other than the achilles (e.g. patellar tendon) and explore a range of further strains that may induce adaptation. Training at higher and lower tendon strains also affects the muscular aspect of the muscle-tendon complex. For example, Arampatzis et al. 2007 showed that training at a low tendon strain equated to training at ~50% MVC, whereas higher strain corresponded to 90% MVC. Currently it is not clear what adaptations take place at the muscle level by altering resistance training mechanics to favour tendon adaptation. Furthermore, there are no studies that have investigated how these adaptations in the muscle-tendon complex following training at higher and lower strains, affect the performance of common athletic tasks and function. Therefore the focus of these studies will be to determine the adaptations of the muscle-tendon complex via manipulation of resistance training mechanics, and their impact on performance tasks.

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