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Keywords:

  • electromyography;
  • EMG;
  • stretch-shortening cycle;
  • peripheral nerve stimulation;
  • training

The effect of whole body vibration (WBV) on reflex responses is controversially discussed in the literature. In this study, three different modalities of reflex activation with increased motor complexity have been selected to clarify the effects of acute WBV on reflex activation: (1) the electrically evoked H-reflex, (2) the mechanically elicited stretch reflex, and (3) the short-latency response (SLR) during hopping. WBV-induced changes of the H-reflex, the stretch reflex, and the SLR during hopping were recorded in the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles and were analyzed before, during (only the H-reflex), immediately after, 5 min and 10 min after WBV. The main findings were that (1) the H-reflexes were significantly reduced during and at least up to 5 min after WBV, (2) the stretch reflex amplitudes were also significantly reduced immediately after WBV but recovered to their initial amplitudes within 5 min, and (3) the SLR during hopping showed no vibration-induced modulation. With regard to the modalities with low motor complexities, the decreased H- and stretch reflex responses are assumed to point toward a reduced Ia afferent transmission during and after WBV. However, it is assumed that during hopping, the suppression of reflex sensitivity is compensated by facilitatory mechanisms in this complex motor task.