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For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.

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By Z. Tjalf. Sweet Briar College.

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Since the length of skeletal muscle is usually fixed in the body by attachment to bone nexium 20 mg on line, they cannot be stretched out beyond their optimum length cheap 40 mg nexium with amex. Thus purchase nexium 40 mg mastercard, they do not require a stiff passive length tension relation to prevent overstretching. In in vitro experiments, however, it is easier to passively stretch skeletal muscle than cardiac muscle. Stretching heart muscle, however, does not stretch sarcomeres much beyond about 2. This increased stiffness of cardiac muscle presumably relates to an increased collagen content. Skeletal Heart Mitochondria + ++ Sarcoplasmic Reticulum ++ + Resting Force at L max Low High Number of Sarcomeres in >2. Skeletal muscle contraction can be tetanic and sustained when stimulated by a train of electrical stimuli. On the other hand, cardiac muscle responds only to a single stimulus and has a long refractory period before it responds again to another stimulus. Thus, cardiac muscle is characterized by a twitch contraction, whereas skeletal muscle can contract tetanically. Furthermore, cardiac muscle contraction is all or none and cannot be graded (by recruitment of additional motor units) as can skeletal muscle. There is a predictable relationship between sarcomere length at the onset of contraction and the amount of force developed by the muscle. Classical studies in skeletal muscle suggest that the developed force is related to the degree of overlap of thin and thick filaments (Figure 4). As muscle is stretched beyond this point, there is less overlap between thin and thick filaments and thus less opportunity for crossbridges to form. This has been postulated as the primary mechanism for the reduction in force at shorter muscle lengths. Figure 4: Classical relation between the force of development of skeletal muscle and the overlap of thin and thick filaments. Figure 5: Representative series of isometric contractions in a cat papillary muscle studied in vitro in a muscle bath. Contractions are superimposed on a memory oscilloscope and then photographed with a Polaroid picture. The lower line represents the passive length-tension curve of the muscle at that length. Cardiac muscle is relatively stiff as one tries to stretch it out to longer muscle lengths. The resting and developed force at a series of muscle lengths are shown in Figure 5 in a representative experiment. At longer lengths, the resting force (bottom line) rises abruptly because of the stiffness of the muscle. Note that as length increases, the force developed by the muscle (height of vertical lines) progressively increases until one reaches the L max point, Muscle Mechanics - Robert Turcott, M. Figure 6 plots representative resting and developed length-force relations of cardiac muscle. The developed force rises to a peak at the length designated L max and then declines. The resting force rises relatively slowly at shorter lengths but as one approaches and passes L max, there is an abrupt rise in resting force along its exponential passive length-force curve. The simple addition of resting and developed force is the total force which is a relatively straight line over much of its course. Figure 6: Resting and developed force-length curves as obtained in isolated heart muscle. The relation between myocardial and sarcomere lengths and the passive and active length-force curves of cardiac muscle are illustrated in Figure 7. There are few cross-bridges at the center of the myosin filament in the vicinity of the M line so that the ends of the opposite actin filaments are slightly separated. At longer lengths in skeletal muscle the sarcomeres are pulled out slightly and force is reduced due to fewer cross-bridges formed.

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