Allied Journal of Medical Research

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Muscle Contraction

Muscle contraction is the activation of tension-generating sites within muscle fibers. In physiology, muscle contraction does not necessarily mean muscle shortening because muscle tension can be produced without changes in muscle length, such as when holding a heavy book or a dumbbell at the same position.  The termination of muscle contraction is followed by muscle relaxation, which is a return of the muscle fibers to their low tension-generating state. Muscle contractions can be described based on two variables: length and tension.  A muscle contraction is described as isometric if the muscle tension changes but the muscle length remains the same. In contrast, a muscle contraction is isotonic if muscle tension remains the same throughout the contraction. If the muscle length shortens, the contraction is concentric; if the muscle length lengthens, the contraction is eccentric. In natural movements that underlie locomotor activity, muscle contractions are multifaceted as they are able to produce changes in length and tension in a time-varying manner. Therefore, neither length nor tension is likely to remain the same in muscles that contract during locomotor activity.

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