A noncontact optical system using high speed image analysis to measure local tissue deformations and axial strains along skeletal muscle is described. The spatial resolution of the system was 20 pixels/cm and the accuracy was ±0.125mm. In order to minimize the error associated with discrete data used to characterize a continuous strain field, the displacement data were fitted with a third order polynomial and the fitted data differentiated to measure surface strains using a Lagrangian finite strain formulation. The distribution of axial strain along the muscle-tendon unit was nonuniform and rate dependent. Despite a variation in local strain distribution with strain rate, the maximum axial strain, Exx = 0.614 ± 0.045 mm/mm, was rate insensitive and occurred at the failure site for all tests. The frequency response of the video system (1000 Hz) and the measurement of a continuous strain field along the entire length of the structure improve upon previous noncontact optical systems for measurement of surface strains in soft tissues.

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