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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Oct;107(4):1051-8. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00301.2009. Epub 2009 Aug 20.

Short-term pressure induced suppression of the short-latency response: a new methodology for investigating stretch reflexes.

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Department of Sport Science, Univ. of Freiburg, Schwarzwaldstr. 175, 79117 Freiburg, Germany.


During experiments involving ischemic nerve block, we noticed that the short-latency response (SLR) of evoked stretches in m. soleus decreased immediately following inflation of a pneumatic cuff surrounding the lower leg. The present study aimed to investigate this short-term effect of pressure application in more detail. Fifty-eight healthy subjects were divided into seven protocols. Unilateral stretches were applied to the calf muscles to elicit a SLR, and bilateral stretches to evoke a subsequent medium-latency response (MLR). Furthermore, H-reflexes and sensory nerve action potentials (SNAPs) were recorded. Additionally, stretches were applied with different velocities and amplitudes. Finally, the SLR was investigated during hopping and in two protocols that modified the ability of the muscle-tendon complex distal to the cuff to stretch. All measurements were performed with deflated and inflated cuff. Results of the protocols were as follows: 1) inflation of the cuff reduced the SLR but not the MLR; 2) the H-reflex, the M-wave, and, 3) SNAPs of n. tibialis remained unchanged with deflated and inflated cuff; 4) the SLR was dependent on the stretch velocity with deflated and also inflated cuff; 5 and 6) the reduction of the SLR by the cuff was dependent on the elastic properties of the muscle-tendon complex distal to the cuff; and 7) the cuff reduced the SLR during hopping. The present results suggest that the cuff did not affect the reflex arc per se. It is proposed that inflation restricted stretch of the muscles underlying the cuff so that most of the length change occurred in the muscle-tendon complex distal to the cuff. As a consequence, the muscle spindles lying within the muscle may be less excited, resulting in a reduced SLR. Due to its applicability in functional tasks, the introduced method can be a useful tool to study afferent feedback in motor control.

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