No evidence hip joint angle modulates intrinsically produced stretch reflex in human hopping.
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Motor output in activities such as walking and hopping is suggested to be mediated neurally by purported stretch reflex augmentation of muscle output. Reflex EMG activity during these tasks has been frequently investigated in the soleus muscle; with alterations in reflex amplitude being associated with changes in hip joint angle/phase of the gait cycle. Previous work has focussed on reflex activity induced by an artificial perturbation or by induction of H-reflexes. As such, it is currently unknown if stretch reflex activity induced intrinsically (as part of the task) is modulated by changes in hip joint angle. This study investigated whether hip joint angle modulated reflex EMG 'burst' activity during a hopping task performed on a custom-built partially reclined sleigh. Ten subjects participated; EMG and kinematic data (VICON motor capture system) was collected for each hop cycle. Participants completed 5 sets of 30s of self-paced hopping in (1) hip neutral and (2) hip 60° flexion conditions. There was no difference in EMG 'burst' activity or in sagittal plane kinematics (knee/ankle) in the hopping task between the two conditions. The results indicate that during a functional task such as hopping, changes in hip angle do not alter the stretch reflex-like activity associated with landing.
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