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Active tension describes the

tension or force of contraction that


a muscle can actively generate via
the sliding filament mechanism
Active strength of a muscles
contraction is based on the number
of cross-bridges that exist between
myosin and actin filaments
If the number of cross-bridges were
to decrease, the strength of the
muscles contraction would
decrease
If the strength of a muscles
contraction decreases sufficiently,
the muscle could be said to be
insufficient in strength
Actively insufficient muscle is a
muscle that cannot generate
sufficient strength actively via the
sliding filament mechanism
Active insufficiency is the term
used to describe a muscle that is
weak because of a decrease in the
number of myosin-actin crossbridges during the sliding filament
mechanism.
Shortened active insufficiency
of a muscle occurs when a muscle
is shorter than its resting length
and weak because of a decrease in
myosin-actin cross-bridges
o At rest, we see that every
myosin head is able to form
a cross-bridge by binding to
the adjacent actin filament.
Given this maximal number
of cross-bridge formation,
the sarcomere at rest can
generate maximal pulling
force and is therefore
strong.
o In a shortened sarcomere,
the actin filaments overlap
one another in such a way
that some of the binding
(active) sites on one of the
actin filaments are blocked
by the other actin filament
(and some of the binding
sites of the actin filament
that is overlapping the other
are too close toward the
center and also not

accessible by the myosin


heads).
o Myosin heads that would
normally form cross-bridges
by attaching to those
binding sites are unable to
do so. This results in fewer
cross-bridges. A sarcomere
that forms fewer crossbridges cannot generate as
much pulling force, and its
strength is diminished
o Because a shortened
muscle is composed of
shortened sarcomeres, a
shortened muscle exhibits
shortened active
insufficiency and is weaker
because it forms fewer
myosin-actin cross-bridges
Lengthened active insufficiency
of a muscle occurs when a muscle
is longer than its resting length and
weak because of a decrease in
myosin-actin cross-bridges.
o A sarcomere at rest in which
every myosin head is able
to form a cross-bridge by
binding to the adjacent
actin filament. Given this
maximal number of crossbridge formation, the
sarcomere at rest can
generate maximal pulling
force and is therefore strong
o In a lengthened sarcomere,
the actin filaments are
pulled so far from the center
of the sarcomere that many
of the myosin heads cannot
reach the actin filaments to
form cross-bridge
o Therefore many of the
myosin heads that would
normally form cross-bridges
are unable to do so. This
results in fewer crossbridges
o Because a lengthened
muscle is composed of
lengthened sarcomeres, a
lengthened muscle exhibits
lengthened active
insufficiency and is weaker

because it forms fewer


myosin-actin cross-bridges
When a person makes a fist, the
muscles that make the fist are the
flexors of the fingers and thumb,
and the specific muscles
responsible for this action are
primarily the extrinsic flexors that
attach proximally in the
arm/forearm (flexor digitorum
superficialis, flexor digitorum
profundus, flexor pollicis longus).
These extrinsic flexors cross the
wrist joint anteriorly to enter the
hand; then they cross the
metacarpophalangeal (MCP) and
interphalangeal (IP) joints to enter
the fingers
If the wrist joint is flexed, these
extrinsic muscles would shorten
across the wrist joint, and because
of shortened active insufficiency,
would be unable to generate
sufficient strength to move the
fingers and make a strong fist
If the wrist joint is extended
instead, these muscles would be
stretched longer across the wrist
joint and, because of lengthened

active insufficiency, would be


unable to generate sufficient
strength to move the fingers and
make a strong fist
Another classic example that
demonstrates shortened active
insufficiency is abdominal curlups (i.e., crunches).
o The reason for bending the
hip joint is to shorten the
iliopsoas by bringing its
attachments closer together
(flexing the thigh at the hip
joint brings the lesser
trochanter closer to the
pelvis and spine)
o By doing this, the iliopsoas
becomes shortened and
actively insufficient;
therefore it is not as readily
recruited during the curl-up
and is not strengthened as
much
(SOURCE: Kinesiology: The Skeletal
System and Muscle Function by Joseph
Muscolino)