Gait and the spinal cord reflexes and inhibitory processes.
It is important that we all understand this, especially those that think they can retrain or correct people's gait and running form just by adding mere corrective suggestions from data and video.
Research by the lab of Martyn Goulding reveals that specific neurons called RORbeta (RORβ) interneurons inhibit transmission of potentially disruptive sensory information during walking in order to promote a fluid gait.
This new research shows us that so much more is going on in our spinal cord that we previously knew. The cord seems to know when to process information and when to ignore it so as to not be distracted. This is good, because the brain cannot process all of this information all the time, some of it has to be spinal cord reflexively dealt with. We have discussed presynaptic inhibitory interneuron work a few times on our The Gait Guys podcast over the years and this new research is confirming this process even further. In many respects, this new research is nothing new, but it seems to go deeper, which is very exciting.
"The work, appearing in the journal Neuron on December 7, 2017, reveals that specific neurons called RORbeta (RORβ) interneurons inhibit transmission of potentially disruptive sensory information during walking in order to promote a fluid gait. The research illustrates a high level of sophistication in spinal cord information processing.
"When we are moving, motor circuits in the spinal cord are constantly being barraged by information from sensory receptors in the skin and muscles, telling these circuits what our limbs are doing or what the ground underfoot feels like. This information is critical for actions like walking or standing still. Often these actions are at odds with each other, so a big question in neuroscience has been how our spinal cord “gates” or traffics different kinds of sensory information that might cause conflicting actions, to ensure that each movement is performed properly."
" . . . RORβ interneurons are gating–inhibiting–irrelevant sensory information that would interfere with the normal stepping pattern. When RORβ is present, each step is a smooth fluid motion, but when absent, the legs become excessively flexed (bent) and each step is awkward. In humans this would be akin to your knee continuing to stay bent for too long with each step."