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J Physiol. 2007 May 15;581(Pt 1):99-105. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

Positive force feedback in human walking.

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Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.


The objective of this study was to determine if load receptors contribute to the afferent-mediated enhancement of ankle extensor muscle activity during the late stance phase of the step cycle. Plantar flexion perturbations were presented in late stance while able-bodied human subjects walked on a treadmill that was declined by 4%, inclined by 4% or held level. The plantar flexion perturbation produced a transient, but marked, presumably spinally mediated decrease in soleus EMG that varied directly with the treadmill inclination. Similarly, the magnitude of the control step soleus EMG and Achilles' tendon force also varied directly with the treadmill inclination. In contrast, the ankle angular displacement and velocity were inversely related to the treadmill inclination. These results suggest that Golgi tendon organ feedback, via the group Ib pathway, is reduced when the muscle-tendon complex is unloaded by a rapid plantar flexion perturbation in late stance phase. The changes in the unload response with treadmill inclination suggest that the late stance phase soleus activity may be enhanced by force feedback.

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