Changes in shear wave propagation within skeletal muscle during active and passive force generation

Allison B. Wang*, Eric Perreault, Thomas J. Royston, Sabrina Sien Man Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Muscle force can be generated actively through changes in neural excitation, and passively through externally imposed changes in muscle length. Disease and injury can disrupt force generation, but it can be challenging to separate passive from active contributions to these changes. Ultrasound elastography is a promising tool for characterizing the mechanical properties of muscles and the forces that they generate. Most prior work using ultrasound elastography in muscle has focused on the group velocity of shear waves, which increases with increasing muscle force. Few studies have quantified the phase velocity, which depends on the viscoelastic properties of muscle. Since passive and active forces within muscle involve different structures for force transmission, we hypothesized that measures of phase velocity could detect changes in shear wave propagation during active and passive conditions that cannot be detected when considering only group velocity. We measured phase and group velocity in the human biceps brachii during active and passive force generation and quantified the differences in estimates of shear elasticity obtained from each of these measurements. We found that measures of group velocity consistently overestimate the shear elasticity of muscle. We used a Voigt model to characterize the phase velocity and found that the estimated time constant for the Voigt model provided a way to distinguish between passive and active force generation. Our results demonstrate that shear wave elastography can be used to distinguish between passive and active force generation when it is used to characterize the phase velocity of shear waves propagating in muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - Sep 20 2019



  • Forces
  • Muscle
  • Shear wave elastography
  • Viscoelastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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