Structural and material properties of human foot tendons

  • Enrique Morales-Orcajo
    Corresponding author at: Mechanical Engineering Department, School of Engineering and Architecture (EINA), University of Zaragoza, c/María de Luna s/n, Betancourt Building, 50018 Zaragoza, Spain.
    Group of Structural Mechanics and Materials Modeling (GEMM), Aragón Institute of Engineering Research (I3A), University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

    Biomedical Research Networking Center in Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN), Spain

    Group of Biomechanical Engineering UFMG — (MecBio), School of Engineering, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil
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  • Ricardo Becerro de Bengoa Vallejo
    Nursing Physiotherapy and Podiatry Faculty, Medicine Faculty, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain
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  • Marta Losa Iglesias
    Faculty of Health Sciences, Rey Juan Carlos University, Madrid, Spain
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  • Javier Bayod
    Group of Structural Mechanics and Materials Modeling (GEMM), Aragón Institute of Engineering Research (I3A), University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain

    Biomedical Research Networking Center in Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN), Spain
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      • Two different tendon behaviors were distinguished.
      • Stress–strain tendon curves exhibit proportionality between regions.
      • A reference of the mechanical properties of foot tendons was presented.
      • A criterion to quantify the regions of the stress–strain curve was defined.



      The aim of this study was to assess the mechanical properties of the main balance tendons of the human foot in vitro reporting mechanical structural properties and mechanical material properties separately. Tendon structural properties are relevant for clinical applications, for example in orthopedic surgery to elect suitable replacements. Tendon material properties are important for engineering applications such as the development of refined constitutive models for computational simulation or in the design of synthetic materials.


      One hundred uniaxial tensile tests were performed to obtain the mechanical response of the main intrinsic and extrinsic human foot tendons. The specimens were harvested from five frozen cadaver feet including: Extensor and Flexor tendons of all toes, Tibialis Anterior and Posterior tendons and Peroneus Brevis and Longus tendons.


      Cross-sectional area, load and strain failure, Young's modulus and ultimate tensile stress are reported as a reference of foot tendon mechanical properties. Two different behaviors could be differentiated. Tibialis and Peroneus tendons exhibited higher values of strain failure compared to Flexor and Extensor tendons which had higher Young's modulus and ultimate tensile stress. Stress–strain tendon curves exhibited proportionality between regions. The initial strain, the toe region and the yield point corresponded to the 15, 30 and 70% of the strain failure respectively.


      Mechanical properties of the lesser-studied human foot tendons are presented under the same test protocol for different engineering and clinical applications. The tendons that work at the inversion/eversion plane are more deformable at the same stress and strain rate than those that work at the flexion/extension plane.


      CSA (cross-sectional area), EDB (extensor digitorum brevis), EDL (extensor digitorum longus), EHL (extensor hallucis longus), FDB (flexor digitorum brevis), FDL (flexor digitorum longus), FHL (flexor hallucis longus), PB (peroneus brevis), PL (peroneus longus), TA (tibialis anterior), TP (tibiales posterior)


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