Continuous, bilateral Achilles' tendon vibration is not detrimental to human walk

Grégoire Courtine, Thierry Pozzo, Brigitte Lucas, Marco Schieppati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sensory feedback from the moving limbs contributes to the regulation of animal and human locomotion. However, the question of the specific role of the various modalities is still open. Further, functional loss of leg afferent fibres due to peripheral neuropathy does not always lead to major alteration in the gait pattern. In order to gain further insight on proprioceptive control of human gait, we applied vibratory tendon stimulation, known to recruit spindle primary afferent fibres, to both triceps surae muscles during normal floor walk. This procedure would disturb organisation and execution of walking, especially if spindles fire continuously and subjects are blindfolded. Vibration induced significant, though minor, changes in duration and length of stance and swing phase, and on speed of walking and kinematics of lower limb segments. No effect was induced on angular displacement of the ankle joint or trunk and head kinematics. This paucity of effects was at variance with the perception of the subjects, who reported illusion of leg stiffness and gait imbalance. These findings would speak for a selective gating of Ia input during locomotion and emphasise the notion that the central nervous system can cope with an unusual continuous input along the Ia fibres from a key muscle like the soleus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2001


  • Achilles' tendon vibration
  • Calf muscles
  • Gait
  • Modulation
  • Proprioception
  • Spindle Ia input

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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