A micromechanical model has been developed to study and predict the mechanical behavior of fibrous soft tissues. The model uses the theorems of least work and minimum potential energy to predict upper and lower bounds on material behavior based on the structure and properties of tissue components. The basic model consists of a composite of crimped collagen fibers embedded in an elastic glycosaminoglycan matrix. Upper and lower bound aggregation rules predict composite material behavior under the assumptions of uniform strain and uniform stress, respectively. Input parameters consist of the component material properties and the geometric configuration of the fibers. The model may be applied to a variety of connective tissue structures and is valuable in giving insight into material behavior and the nature of interactions between tissue components in various structures. Application of the model to rat tail tendon and cat knee joint capsule is described in a companion paper [2].

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