Diverging results have been reported regarding the modulation and amplitude of the soleus H-reflex measured during human walking and running. A possible explanation to this could be the use of too high stimulus strength in some studies while not in others. During activities like walking and running it is necessary to use a small M-wave to control the effective stimulus strength during all phases of the movement. This implies that the descending part of the H-reflex recruitment curve is being used, which may lead to an unwanted suppression of the H-reflex due to limitations imbedded within the H-reflex methodology itself. Accordingly, the purpose of the present study was to study the effect on the soleus H-reflex during walking and running using stimulus intensities normally considered too high (up to 45% Mmax). Using M-waves of 25-45% Mmax as opposed to 5-25% Mmax showed a significant suppression of the peak H-reflex during the stance phase of walking, while no changes were observed during running. No differences were observed regarding modulation pattern. So a possible use of too high stimulus intensity cannot explain the differences mentioned. The surprising result in running may be explained by the much higher voluntary muscle activity, which implies the existence of a V-wave influencing the H-reflex amplitude in positive direction.
Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 2013, Vol 23, Issue 2, p. 438-42