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Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal

Deducing a mechanism of all musculoskeletal injuries

Original Article, 174 - 182
doi: 10.11138/mltj/2016.6.2.174
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Abstract
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Background: The mechanism of musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries is not well understood. This research applies principles of elastic motion to the anatomy and movement patterns of MSK structures. From this an insight into the application and timing of forces on MSK structures can be established and the mechanism/s of injury derived.
Methods (Current Knowledge): All MSK structures demonstrate varying degrees of elasticity. Movement occurs primarily as a consequence of Muscle Tendon Unit (MTU) shortening. The application of an applied external force results in MSK structure lengthening.
Results: The MTU acts as a non-idealised Hookean Spring. The resting length of MSK structures is the minimum distance between attachment points. The anatomical constraints results in MSK structures having adequate compressive strength during shortening.
Thus MSK injuries only occur during lengthening of the MSK structure. From this with knowledge of MSK movement cycles, we can derive the mechanism of injury.
Conclusions: MSK injuries result from an inability to counter applied forces whilst lengthening. Muscles, tendons and ligaments can only injure during their lengthening contraction phase. Insertional tendons and bone near attachment points injure during the MTU shortening phase. Injuries to other MSK structures can occur independent of the lengthening and shortening phases such as direct contact injuries.

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