Absorbing The Impact To The Head And Neck And What The Coach Should Know                                                                          

The muscle tendon unit produces force during athletic movement from a combination of muscle actions and a release of elastic energy from the tendon component.  Though acting as a single system, these two components contribute to force production at different times.

The muscle tendon unit also acts as a force dissipator during an athletic collision.

muscleAn attenuator is an electronic device that reduces the amplitude or power.  Whether discussing biology, etymology, physiology or physics attenuation is a process of reduction.  Tendons function as power attenuators that protect muscles against damage from rapid and forceful lengthening during energy dissipation.

Bundles of muscle fibers are called muscle fascicles.  Rapid muscle tendon unit lengthening immediately following impact surprisingly involves little or no muscle fascicle lengthening.  Following this early impact contact period, muscle fascicles lengthen and absorb energy. This late lengthening occurs after most of the joint movement and is mainly driven by tendon recoil.

Tendon stiffness increases with muscle strength.  Tendon stiffness reduces the probability of tendon strain injuries and increases the power of the muscle tendon unit.  Increased tendon unit power aides in performance and energy dissipation during contact. 

What The Coach Should Know

1). There are no gender-related difference in the relationship between the mechanical properties of the tendon and muscle strength other than greater or lesser strength between men and women.  In other words, the difference in tendon mechanical properties between men and women is correlated to the difference in muscle strength, rather than their gender.

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2). Building strong muscles build stiff thick tendons that dissipate force that inturn protects the very muscles that build them.


3). Strengthen your athletes head and neck muscles regardless of gender, and they will be safer from concussive forces when they enter competition.

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