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Autogenetic reflex effects of slow or steady stretch of the calf muscles in man

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In a relaxed subject, slight, slow or maintained stretch of the calf muscles, produced by ankle movement or by pressure on the Achilles tendon, reduces the amplitude of the reflex contraction that can be elicited from these muscles by a standard brief electrical stimulation of sensory fibres in the posterior tibial nerve.

A slow stretch applied when the subject is strongly contracting the arm muscles, as in Jendrassik's manoeuvre, results in an increase in electrically induced reflex contraction of calf muscles and often there is also a maintained reflex contraction of these muscles opposing the applied stretch.

These results are discussed in relation to the possible roles of outflow from primary and secondary spindle endings in altering motoneurone excitability.

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Holder of a Wellcome Foundation Research Travel Grant. This article includes work presented to the Faculté des Sciences, Marseille as part of a thesis for the degree of Doctorat de Troisième Cycle (Neurophysiologie).

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Mark, R.F., Coquery, J.M. & Paillard, J. Autogenetic reflex effects of slow or steady stretch of the calf muscles in man. Exp Brain Res 6, 130–145 (1968). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00239167

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Key Words

  • Muscle stretch
  • Spinal reflex
  • Man