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The Influence of a 14-Week Infantry Commanders Courses on the Achilles Tendon and Patellar Tendon Structure


Steinberg N, Funk S, Svorai-Band S, Yavnai N, Pantanowitz M, Zeev A, Dar G


Mil Med. 2021 Feb 3:usab019.

Publishing detail

PMID: 33533888


Introduction: Alternated tendon structure may raise stress to the musculoskeletal structures and may increase the potential for overuse injury. Screening the tendon structure of soldiers pre- and post-participation in a strenuous combat course is essential. The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of a 14-week infantry commanders courses on the Achilles tendon (AT) structure and patellar tendon (PT) structure in combat soldiers.

Materials and methods: Ninety-eight participants from an infantry commanders course were screened pre- and post-course for the AT and PT structures, using ultrasonographic tissue characterizaton (UTC) imaging to capture a 3D structure of four echo-type fibers (I-IV).

Results: In both tendons, the mean relative frequency of echo-type I fibers significantly decreased from pre- to post-testing, with a significant increase in the relative frequency of echo-types II, III, and IV fibers. In the AT, 60.2% of the subjects showed positive differences (between pre- and post-testing in the echo-type III + IV fiber (“worsened” tendon structure), whereas in the PT, 92.2% of the subject showed an increased frequency. No significant correlation (r = 0.108; P = .324) was found between the differences of echo-type III + IV fibers of the AT and that of the PT.

Conclusions: Loads to the musculoskeletal structures along the combat course increased the mean relative frequency of the “reduced” echo-type fibers (III + IV) in both the AT structure and the PT structure. Yet, whereas in the AT around 40% of the soldiers showed an improved tendon structure along the course, in the PT less than 10% of the soldiers showed that improvement. Soldiers and commanders should be aware of the different influence of the loading exercises along the course on the AT and on the PT structure, as “reduced” tendons structure might put the soldiers at higher risk for injury in the future.

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