Modulation of short latency stretch reflexes during human hopping

Acta Physiol Scand. 1998 Jun;163(2):181-94. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-201X.1998.00351.x.


To gain insight into central and peripheral reflex control mechanisms in moving humans we have investigated short latency stretch reflex activity in m. triceps surae during two legged hopping. The objectives were: (1) to compare movement induced short latency stretch reflexes in soleus and medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscles, (2) to determine the relationship between the size of these reflexes and the muscle spindle stretch velocities, and (3) to compare the size of the movement induced short latency stretch reflexes and the H-reflexes simultaneously. Six well-trained healthy male subjects participated and they hopped at three different work rates. Surface electromyogram (EMG) and H-reflexes were recorded during hopping. Muscle spindle length changes were estimated as the difference between estimated origin-to-insertion length changes and tendon length changes. The important findings were that during hopping: (1) movement induced short latency stretch reflexes were observed consistently in soleus, (2) the EMG amplitude of this stretch reflex was negatively correlated with the estimated peak muscle spindle stretch velocity (rs = -0.52, P < 0.02), and (3) the amplitude of the soleus H-reflex at touchdown did not change in parallel with the stretch reflex. The negative correlation observed between the stretch reflex and the estimated peak muscle spindle stretch velocity in soleus is opposite to the basic velocity sensitive behaviour of stretch reflexes mechanically elicited during resting conditions. Possible control mechanisms are discussed. Additionally, muscle spindle length changes estimated from changes in the skeletal movements (joint angles) should be inferred cautiously because of tendon compliance, especially at high tendon forces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • H-Reflex / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reflex, Stretch / physiology*
  • Tendons / physiology