Cyclic preconditioning is a commonly accepted initial component of any tendon testing protocol. Preconditioning provides tendons with a consistent “history” and stress-strain results become repeatable allowing for rigorous evaluation and comparison. While it is widely accepted that preconditioning is important, changes that occur during preconditioning are not well understood. Micro-structural alterations, such as re-arrangement of collagen fibers, is one proposed mechanism of preconditioning [1,4]. However, this mechanism has not been examined. Therefore, the objective of this study is to locally measure: 1) fiber re-alignment during preconditioning, stress relaxation and tensile testing and 2) corresponding mechanical properties, to address mechanisms of preconditioning as well as tissue nonlinearity and inhomogeneity in the rat supraspinatus tendon. We hypothesize that 1) fiber re-alignment will be greatest in the toe region, but will also occur during preconditioning and 2) mechanical properties and initial collagen fiber alignment will be greater in the midsubstance location of the tendon compared to the tendon-to-bone insertion site.

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