Comparison of the histochemical and contractile properties of human triceps surae

C. L. Rice, D. A. Cunningham, A. W. Taylor, D. H. Paterson

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Contractile and histochemical properties of the triceps surae were compared in 16 males and 4 females aged 20 to 49 years. Surface electrical stimulation was used to determine twitch, tetanic and fatigue parameters. From these tests, twitch tension (Pt), time to peak tension (TPT), half relaxation time 1/2 RT), tetanic tensions at 10, 20 and 50 Hz and an index of fatigue (FI) were calculated. A maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) was also performed. Muscle samples from the belly of the lateral gastrocnemius were obtained using the needle biopsy technique. The samples were treated histochemically for myosin ATPase and NADH-tetrazolium reductase in order to classify the fibres as either Type I, slow twitch (ST) or Type II, fast twitch (FT) and to determine fibre areas. Correlations were performed between the grouped male and female contractile and histochemical variables. The results demonstrated significant positive relationships between percentage of ST fibres (%ST) and TPT (r=0.49), and %ST and the ratio of tetanic forces at 10 Hz to 50 Hz (Po10/Po50) (r=0.55). No significant relationships were obtained for Pt, 1/2 RT, MVC or FI with any histochemical parameter. The results suggest that fibre type distribution determined using myosin ATPase is related to electrically stimulated isometric contractile speeds and not to voluntary force generation (MVC) or electrically induced fatigue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-170
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1988



  • Contractile properties
  • Fibre types
  • Human triceps surae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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