We evaluated the stretch reflex activities of the elbow flexor and extensor muscles considering the relationship between the reflex electromyographic (EMG) responses and their corresponding standardized muscle stretch velocities. Specifically, muscular stretch velocity was estimated by using ultrasonograms. Stretch reflex EMG responses were elicited in the biceps brachii, brachioradialis and triceps brachii with a ramp-and-hold rotation at the elbow joint, which consisted of various angular velocities for the extension- or flexion-direction. The whole muscle stretch velocity induced by each ramp- and-hold rotation was calculated on the basis of fibre length changes associated with the elbow joint angle. A linear regression equation was fitted to the relation between the whole muscle stretch velocity and the reflex EMG responses, and the variables from the equation were used to quantify sensitivity of each reflex EMG component. The reflex EMG responses were increased as the ramp- and-hold rotational velocity increased. There were no significant differences in the recorded magnitudes of reflex EMG responses with equivalent joint rotational velocity between the brachioradialis and the triceps brachii medial head. These muscles showed the highest reflex responses in the flexor and extensor muscles, respectively. To the contrary, the reflex EMG response elicited by the standardized muscle stretches was significantly greater in the extensor muscles, indicating a higher reflex sensitivity. This was because of the lower muscle stretch velocity of the triceps brachii with an equivalent elbow joint rotation. The stretch reflex sensitivity in both the elbow flexor and extensor muscles might be regulated so as to make the reflex responses the same when the equivalent joint rotational velocity is applied to these muscles.
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