Research Topic

The Stretch-shortening Cycle of Active Muscle and Muscle-tendon Complex: What, Why and How It Increases Muscle Performance?

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The stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) refers to the muscle action when active muscle lengthening is immediately followed by active muscle shortening. This combination of eccentric and concentric contractions is one the most common type of muscle action during locomotion. Two specific features characterize SSCs: ...

The stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) refers to the muscle action when active muscle lengthening is immediately followed by active muscle shortening. This combination of eccentric and concentric contractions is one the most common type of muscle action during locomotion. Two specific features characterize SSCs: First, during the concentric push-off phase of a SSC, force, work, and power production are significantly increased compared to a purely concentric contraction without preceding eccentric stretch. Second, this increase in performance during SSCs is accompanied by an increased neuromuscular efficiency and economy. Despite clear evidence concerning the increase in performance and efficiency in various experimental human and animal studies, the underlying mechanisms remain a matter of debate. This is because none of the currently accepted mechanisms can solely or entirely explain the increase in performance and efficiency during SSCs.

About 20 years after van Ingen Schenau and colleagues initiated a point and counterpoint discussion in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics on the proposed SSC mechanisms and their relevance, a new series of studies revisited muscle function during SSC contractions. As some of the recent findings disagree with former conclusions, the aim of this Research Topic is to reignite a holistic debate about the existence and relevance of the various contractile, biomechanical, and neural factors contributing to the increased performance during SSCs. All SSC related research is welcome, including research on contractile and elastic properties across all structural levels of muscle, research on the neural control of SSCs, studies on SSC energetics as well as modelling approaches.

Disclosure statement: Topic Editor Jared R Fletcher is a scientific consultant for Biomechanigg Sport and Health Research Inc (Canada). All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: eccentric contraction, passive elastic energy, stretch-reflex, performance enhancement, history dependence


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