Systematic review of skeletal muscle passive mechanics experimental methodology

Benjamin I. Binder-Markey, Danielle Sychowski, Richard L. Lieber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Understanding passive skeletal muscle mechanics is critical in defining structure–function relationships in skeletal muscle and ultimately understanding pathologically impaired muscle. In this systematic review, we performed an exhaustive literature search using PRISMA guidelines to quantify passive muscle mechanical properties, summarized the methods used to create these data, and make recommendations to standardize future studies. We screened over 7500 papers and found 80 papers that met the inclusion criteria. These papers reported passive muscle mechanics from single muscle fiber to whole muscle across 16 species and 54 distinct muscles. We found a wide range of methodological differences in sample selection, preparation, testing, and analysis. The systematic review revealed that passive muscle mechanics is species and scale dependent—specifically within mammals, the passive mechanics increases non-linearly with scale. However, a detailed understanding of passive mechanics is still unclear because the varied methodologies impede comparisons across studies, scales, species, and muscles. Therefore, we recommend the following: smaller scales may be maintained within storage solution prior to testing, when samples are tested statically use 2–3 min of relaxation time, stress normalization at the whole muscle level be to physiologic cross-sectional area, strain normalization be to sarcomere length when possible, and an exponential equation be used to fit the data. Additional studies using these recommendations will allow exploration of the multiscale relationship of passive force within and across species to provide the fundamental knowledge needed to improve our understanding of passive muscle mechanics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110839
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
StatePublished - Dec 2 2021


  • Curve-fitting
  • Nonlinear mechanical properties
  • Skeletal muscle physiology
  • Skeletal muscle scaling
  • Soft-tissue mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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