Effects of changes in hip joint angle on H-reflex excitability in humans

Maria Knikou*, William Rymer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


We examined the amplitude modulation of the soleus (Sol) H-reflex during controlled variations of the hip joint angle in 21 healthy adult human subjects. Hip angle variations were imposed separately, or in combination either with stimulation of the plantar skin or with electrical activation of muscle afferents from the medial gastrocnemius (MG) nerve. We found that with subjects in the supine position, flexion of the hip significantly depressed Sol H-reflex excitability, by as much as 50% of control reflex values (Ho) recorded at 10° of hip flexion. Conversely, significant facilitation of the H-reflex was observed when the hip joint was extended (10°), with amplitudes reaching 200±15.3% of Ho. Changes in H-reflex amplitude were also observed during electrical stimulation of either the foot sole or the MG nerve, when stimuli were delivered at different hip angles. Foot sole stimulation resulted in facilitation of the H-reflex with the hip extended while depression of the reflex was recorded with the hip flexed. In contrast, MG nerve stimulation at group-I muscle afferent strength resulted in a significant increase in the Sol H-reflex magnitude with the hip flexed, while during hip extension, suppression of the H-reflex was present. This study provides evidence for the existence of a spinal mechanism, determined principally by the hip joint angle, which promotes switching between inhibitory and facilitatory pathways during hip flexion and extension. The origins of such a spinal mechanism are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-159
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Cutaneous afferents
  • Group I afferents
  • H-reflex
  • Hip
  • Human
  • Motor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of changes in hip joint angle on H-reflex excitability in humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this