Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Supraspinal Control of Recurrent Inhibition during Anisometric Contractions


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2019 - Volume 51 - Issue 11 - p 2357–2365
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002042

Purpose Increase in recurrent inhibition was observed during eccentric compared with isometric and concentric maximal voluntary contractions but the neural mechanisms involved in this specific control of the Renshaw cell activity are unknown. This study was designed to investigate the supraspinal control of the recurrent inhibition during anisometric contractions of the plantar flexor muscles.

Methods To that purpose, the paired Hoffmann-reflex (H-reflex) technique permitted to assess changes in homonymous recurrent pathway by comparing the modulations of test and conditioning H-reflexes (H′ and H1, respectively) in the soleus (SOL) muscle during maximal and submaximal isometric, concentric and eccentric contractions. Submaximal contraction intensity was set at 50% of the SOL electromyographic activity recorded during maximal isometric contraction. Fourteen volunteer subjects participated in an experimental session designed to assess the activity of the recurrent inhibition pathway.

Results The results indicate that the amplitude of H1 normalized to the maximal M-wave were similar (P > 0.05) regardless of the muscle contraction type and intensity. Whatever the contraction intensity, the ratio between H′ and H1 amplitudes was significantly decreased (P < 0.05) during eccentric compared with isometric and concentric contractions. Furthermore, this ratio was significantly smaller (P < 0.05) during submaximal compared with maximal contractions whatever the muscle contraction type.

Conclusion Together, the current results confirm the supraspinal control of the Renshaw cell activity when muscle contraction intensity is modulated and show that this control remains similar for isometric, concentric and eccentric contractions. Data further suggest that recurrent inhibition pathway may serve as variable gain regulator at motoneuronal level to improve resolution in the control of motor output for the SOL during eccentric contractions.

1Toulouse NeuroImaging Center, Université de Toulouse, Inserm, UPS, FRANCE

2Service de Médecine Physique et Réadaptation, CHU Toulouse Rangueil, Toulouse, FRANCE

Address for correspondence: Julien Duclay, Ph.D., University Paul Sabatier, Faculty of sport science, 118 route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse Cedex 9, France; E-mail:

Submitted for publication October 2018.

Accepted for publication May 2019.

Online date: May 21, 2019

© 2019 American College of Sports Medicine