Changes in muscle hardness from resting to mid-range lengthened positions detected by shear wave elastography (SWE) with a novel protocol of ultrasound probe placement

Christina Zong Hao Ma, Yong Ping Zheng, Lok Kan Cheng, Longjun Ren

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Muscle hardness and its relationship with different muscle lengths/positions are important for understanding its underlying physiological status, and yet remained unclear. This study aimed to detect the local muscle hardness at different muscle lengths and identify the influence of muscle position on muscle hardness in healthy adults. A total of 26 healthy adults participated in this study. Shear wave elastography (SWE) was used to measure the muscle hardness of the Rectus Femoris (RF), Tibialis Anterior (TA) and Gastrocnemius Medialis (GM). Each muscle was tested at both resting (RST) and mid-range lengthened (MRL) positions. A novel ultrasound probe placing method was introduced, applied, and evaluated in this study. Moderate to excellent intra-/inter-rater reliability (Intraclass Correlation Coefficient, ICC ≥ 0.70) was found for muscle hardness measurements. The muscle hardness significantly increased from the RST to MRL position for all three muscles (p < 0.001). This study found that the muscle hardness increased at its mid-range lengthened position from the resting position. The mid-range lengthened muscle position of TA and GM could also be sensitive enough to reflect the age-related changes in local muscle hardness. This study also highlights the importance of placing the assessed extremities in an appropriate and consistent position when assessing muscle qualities by ultrasonics in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number452
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Ageing muscle
  • Elastography
  • Muscle hardness
  • Shear wave elastography (SWE)
  • Slack length

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes

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