Study Design: Descriptive study to compare relationships between muscle performance measures in 2 subject groups. Objectives: To determine the relationships between plantar flexor (PF) muscle stiffness, strength (concentric peak torque), and dorsiflexion (DF) range of motion (ROM) in subjects with diabetes who have peripheral neuropathy (n = 17, 10 men, 7 women; age = 58 ± 11 years) and age-matched controls (n = 17, 10 men, 7 women; age = 62 ± 6 years). Background: The relationships between muscle stiffness, strength, and joint ROM have not been clearly established. Furthermore, the effect of neuromuscular pathology on these relationships is unknown. Methods and Measures: PF stiffness and strength measurements were obtained with an isokinetic dynamometer. DF ROM was measured with a goniometer. A Pearson correlation matrix was constructed for each subject group using stiffness, strength, and ROM variables. The percent contribution of passive torque to total torque was computed at 2 joint angles. Results: In subjects with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy (DM-PN) peak concentric PF torque was positively correlated with passive torque at 5° DF (r = 0.77), Stiffness #1 (r = 0.58), and Stiffness #2 (r = 0.50). The percentage of passive PF torque at 5° DF was greater in subjects with DM-PN, compared to control subjects (29.3 ± 9.4% versus 12.6 ± 5.9%). Conclusions: The positive correlation between PF stiffness and strength, and the greater percentage of passive PF torque in subjects with DM-PN suggest that patients with decreased strength may use passive torque to maximize total torque. Therefore, treatment methods designed to decrease stiffness should be used cautiously.
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2000;30(8):473-483.
Key Words: active and passive tension, ankle joint, biomechanics