Tendon structural and mechanical properties do not differ between genders in a healthy community-dwelling elderly population

K E Burgess, S J Pearson, L Breen, G N L Onambélé

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Elderly women are reportedly at higher risk of falling than their male counterparts. Postural balance is highly associated with fall risk and is also correlated with tendon structural and mechanical properties. Gender differences in tendon properties could partly explain the discrepancy in fall risk. Thus the purpose of this study was to investigate the possible gender difference in tendon properties in the elderly. The properties of the patellar tendon of 55 elderly (men n = 27, aged 72 +/- 1 years, women n = 28, aged 70 +/- 1 years) participants were tested. Tendon stiffness (K), length (L), and cross-sectional area (CSA) were measured using B-mode ultrasonography, dynamometry, and electromyography during ramped isometric knee extensions. There were no significant differences (p > 0.05) between men and women in tendon stiffness (elderly men 550.9 +/- 29.2 vs. women 502.9 +/- 44.9 Nmm(-1)) or in Young's modulus (elderly men 0.32 +/- 0.02 vs. women 0.36 +/- 0.04 GPa). This elderly group had similar tendon structural and mechanical properties. The comparable characteristics in gender-specific tendon properties in an elderly population exhibiting similar lifestyle characteristics to the current sample may not explain the reports in the literature regarding increased fall risk in elderly women relative to that seen in men of a similar age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)820-5
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2008 Orthopaedic Research Society


  • Sex Characteristics
  • Humans
  • Aging
  • Electromyography
  • Aged
  • Knee Joint
  • Postural Balance
  • Accidental Falls
  • Risk Factors
  • Torque
  • Patellar Ligament
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Female
  • Male
  • Isometric Contraction


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