Effects of habitual loading on patellar tendon mechanical and morphological properties in basketball and volleyball players

Z. J. Zhang, G. Y.F. Ng, Siu Ngor Fu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Tendon mechanical properties are linked to sports performance and tendon-related injuries, such as tendinopathy. Whether habitual loading, such as participation in regular jumping activities, would induce adaptation on tendon mechanical properties remains unclear. Method: Forty healthy subjects (10 sedentary, 15 volleyball players, and 15 basketball players) aged between 18 and 35 years were recruited. Supersonic shearwave imaging was used to measure the shear elastic modulus and thickness and cross-sectional area (CSA) of the proximal patellar tendons of both knees at 30° of flexion. Result: Significant group differences in tendon shear elastic modulus were found among the three groups. In the dominant leg, reduction in tendon shear elastic modulus by 18.9 % (p = 0.018) and 48.7 % (p = 0.000) were observed in the basketball and volleyball players, respectively, when compared with sedentary subjects. In the non-dominant leg, reduction in tendon shear elastic modulus were 27.3 % (p = 0.034) and 47.1 % (p = 0.02) in the basketball and volleyball players, respectively. The athlete groups were found to have larger CSA but with similar tendon thickness than sedentary group. The CSA were larger by 24–29 % and by 22–24 % in the basketball players and volleyball players, for the dominant and non-dominant legs, respectively (all p < 0.05). Age and body mass are related to tendon stiffness and CSA, particularly in the sedentary subjects. Conclusion: The proximal patellar tendon can undergo substantial adaptation on tendon mechanical and morphological properties when exposed in jumping sports. Intrinsic factors such as age and body mass could influence tendon properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2263-2269
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Basketball
  • Tendon adaptation
  • Tendon mechanical properties
  • Tendon morphological properties
  • Volleyball

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)

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