Purpose The objective of this study was to clarify the characteristics of the upper limb stretch reflex in wrestlers. Methods Ten wrestlers and 11 control subjects participated in the study. The experiment was divided into two sessions. In the extension perturbation session, participants either relaxed or flexed the elbow when they felt a perturbation (abrupt elbow extension induced by a dynamometer). This was done 30 times by each subject for both sessions. In the flexion perturbation session, participants also relaxed or extended the elbow when they felt a perturbation (abrupt elbow flexion). During the tasks, the stretch reflex was monitored by recording the surface EMG activities of the right biceps and triceps brachii. The EMG reflex components were divided into three periods based on the time after the perturbation (M1, 20-50 ms; M2, 50-80 ms; and M3, 80-100 ms). The averaged background EMG activity just before the disturbance was subtracted from the EMG activity in each period. The resultant value was integrated to obtain reflex magnitudes of M1 to M3. Results For the triceps brachii, in the relaxation task, the wrestler group showed a significantly smaller value for M2 than did the control group. In the extension task, the wrestler group showed a significantly larger value for M3 than did the control group. There was no difference in M1 between the two groups. For the biceps brachii, there was no significant difference between any reflex components. Conclusions Our results suggest that high-level wrestlers have specific characteristics of the long-latency stretch reflex in the triceps brachii that are modulated in a situation-specific manner.
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