Disabil Rehabil. 1997 Aug; 19(8): 326-31.
Effect of manual therapy techniques on the stretch reflex in normal human quadriceps.
Biomedical Sciences Division, King's College London, UK.
The effect of four manual therapy techniques on the quadriceps stretch reflex amplitude (elicited by mechanical vibration) was studied in a randomized, controlled trial in 120 (20 in each of six groups) healthy human subjects aged 18-64 years. Passive and active techniques were studied; each under static and dynamic conditions. The passive procedures were massage (static) and knee oscillation (dynamic) for 5 min. Active techniques involved eight repetitions of isometric quadriceps contractions (static) and leg extension (dynamic). The two static techniques had no effect on the stretch reflex amplitude. Both dynamic techniques caused a reduction (active by 25%, p < 0.00001 and passive 12%, p < 0.05). Only the active, dynamic technique caused a greater change than in the control group (p < 0.005). The effect lasted for less than 1 min. These data question the ability of such techniques to make clinically valid changes in motoneuron excitability. Further studies are required on those with neuromuscular pathology, who may respond differently to normal subjects.