October 2021

The Relation of Body Mass Index to Muscular Viscoelastic Properties in Normal and Overweight Individuals

Authors: Serkan Usgu 1, Engin Ramazanoglu 2, Yavuz Yakut 1


  1. Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Department, Faculty of Health Science, Hasan Kalyoncu University, 27010 Gaziantep, Turkey
  2. Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, Inonu University, 44280 Malatya, Turkey

Journal: Medicina - September 2021, Volume 57, Issue 10, Article no. 1022 (DOI: 10.3390/medicina57101022)

Background: The body mass index (BMI) is closely related to fat tissue, which may have direct or indirect effects on muscle function. Previous studies have evaluated BMI and muscle viscoelastic properties in vivo in older people or individual sexes; however, the relationship between BMI and muscular viscoelastic properties is still unknown.

Aims: The purpose of this study was to determine the correlation of BMI with muscular viscoelastic properties, and to compare these properties in a young sedentary population with normal and overweight individuals.

Methods: A total of 172 healthy sedentary individuals (mean age, 26.00 ± 5.45 years) were categorized by sex (male and female) and BMI classification (normal (BMI, 18.50–24.99 kg/m2), overweight (BMI = 25.00–29.99 kg/m2)). Body weight was evaluated using an electronic scale, while height was measured using a standard stadiometer. BMI was calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. The viscoelastic properties (tone, stiffness, and elasticity) of the biceps brachii (BB) and biceps femoris (BF) muscles were measured bilaterally using the MyotonPRO device at rest.

Results: The bilateral BF tone and stiffness, right BB stiffness, and elasticity showed weak correlations with BMI in all participants. Furthermore, the bilateral BF tone and stiffness, right BB stiffness and elasticity, and left BB stiffness were weakly positively correlated with male sex. Only the right BB elasticity was weakly positively correlated with BMI in females (p < 0.05). No correlation with BMI was determined for other viscoelastic properties (p > 0.05). The overweight group showed increased bilateral BF stiffness and tone, right BB stiffness, and reduced bilateral BB elasticity compared to the normal-weight group (p < 0.05), while other viscoelastic properties were similar (p > 0.05). Greater bilateral BB tone, BF tone and stiffness, and lower BF elasticity were observed in males than in females (p < 0.05), but other viscoelastic properties were not significantly different (p < 0.05). No effect of BMI–sex interactions was found on viscoelastic properties (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: The BB and BF viscoelastic properties were weakly correlated with BMI. Males showed greater muscle tone and stiffness, and lower elasticity. The overweight individuals showed increased stiffness and tone, particularly in lower extremities, and reduced elasticity in upper extremities. The effect of BMI–sex interactions on the viscoelastic properties was not clear. Higher BMI (increased mechanical load) might cause the human body to develop different muscular viscoelastic adaptations in the extremities.


Keywords: body mass index, tone, stiffness, elasticity, overweight

Several weak correlations were found between BMI and the viscoelastic properties of the BB and BF muscles. The overweight individuals showed increased stiffness and tone, particularly in the lower extremities, and reduced elasticity in the upper extremities. Males showed greater tone and stiffness, and lower elasticity, compared to females, especially in the lower extremities. The BMI–sex interaction did not appear to affect viscoelastic properties. These results suggest that higher BMI creates a loading stimulus that causes the human body to develop a different muscular viscoelastic adaptation. The increased mechanical load in the lower extremities may lead to an increase in muscle tone and stiffness. The upper extremity muscles, which lack mechanical loading, may be adversely affected. In addition to excess weight, increased tone and stiffness and decreased elasticity may produce advantageous or disadvantageous biomechanical effects on other systems and, in particular, the effects of physical activity, ambulation, and musculoskeletal functions need to be clarified.