January 2014

Delayed patellar tendon development in teens may lead to overuse injuries

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Knee extensor muscle development appears to outpace patellar tendon development in elite male adolescent volleyball players, which may increase their risk of patellar tendinopathy and other overuse injuries, according to research from Berlin, Germany.

Investigators from Humboldt University of Berlin used magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound dynamometry to compare muscle and tendon properties in 19 elite male adolescent volleyball players (average age, 15.9 years) and 18 middle-aged former elite, currently competitive male volleyball players (average age, 46.9 years).

They found no effect of age on vastus lateralis cross-sectional area or maximum knee extensor moment during voluntary isometric contractions, but the patellar tendon cross-sectional area was significantly smaller and the tendon stress during maximal muscle contraction was significantly higher in the younger athletes than the older ones.

The findings, which were epublished on December 17 by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, suggest an imbalance between the development of muscle strength and the development of tendon mechanical and morphological properties in adolescent male athletes.


Mersmann F, Bohm S, Schroll A, et al. Evidence of imbalanced adaptation between muscle and tendon in adolescent athletes. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2013 Dec 27. [Epub ahead of print.]

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