We investigated the effects of foot muscle relaxation and contraction on muscle activities in the hand on both ipsilateral and contralateral sides. The subjects sat in an armchair with hands in the pronated position. They were able to freely move their right/left hand and foot. They performed three tasks for both ipsilateral (right hand and right foot) and contralateral limb coordination (left hand and right foot for a total of six tasks). These tasks involved: (1) wrist extension from a flexed (resting) position, (2) wrist extension with simultaneous ankle dorsiflexion from a plantarflexed (resting) position, and (3) wrist extension with simultaneous ankle relaxation from a dorsiflexed position. The subjects performed each task as fast as possible after hearing the start signal. Reaction time for the wrist extensor contraction (i.e. the degree to which it preceded the motor reaction time), as observed in electromyography (EMG), became longer when it was concurrently done with relaxation of the ankle dorsiflexor. Also, the magnitude of EMG activity became smaller, as compared with activity when wrist extensor contraction was done alone or with contraction of the ankle dorsiflexor. These effects were observed not only for the ipsilateral hand, but also for the contralateral hand. Our findings suggest that muscle relaxation in one limb interferes with muscle contraction in both the ipsilateral and contralateral limbs.
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