This study investigated the effects of ankle joint position and submaximal contraction intensity on soleus (SOL) H-reflex modulation. Twenty young (25.1 ± 4.8 years) and 20 older adults (74.2 ± 5.1 years) performed plantar flexions during 10%, 30% and 50% maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) and at ankle positions of neutral (0°), plantar flexion (20°) and dorsiflexion (–20°) in a sitting position. The SOL H-reflex gain in older adults was relatively lower than that in young adults during 10%, 30% and 50% MVC. The SOL H-reflex gain was significantly affected by the intensity of plantar flexion in the respective ankle joint position in both age groups. The latency of H-reflex was prolonged in older adults and was ankle joint dependent in young adults. Young adults demonstrated a shorter duration of the H-reflex response than that of older adults. The results indicated that there were age-related changes in the SOL H-reflex during the ankle plantar flexors activities.
Chen is with the Dept. of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan. Zhou and Cartwright are with the School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia.