The work done during fast recoil of active striated muscle (as in a jump) was measured at 2 and 12 °C by making tetanized frog sartorii shorten from about 2 mm above slack length, l0, at high speed(6–9 l0 s−1)(1) during a state of isometric contraction and (2) after stretching the muscle, while active, at different speeds and by different amounts. The work done increases with the force developed by the muscle according to a sigmoidal curve, having a point of inflexion that is displaced to greater values of force at 12 °C than at 2 °C. Previous stretching leads to an upward shift of this curve, i.e. to an iso-force gain of energy. This gain increases towards a maximum as the speed and extent of stretching are increased, attaining 60–80% of the total work done from a state of isometric contraction; this fraction decreases when stretching begins from lengths smaller than l0. The apparent elastic behaviour of muscle is thus described by a set of curves rather than by a single curve. Active muscle behaves as a more rigid structure when it transmits the generated force to an external load (as in an isometric contraction) and as a more compliant structure when, stretched by an external force, it has the opportunity to store external mechanical energy.


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