Reciprocal inhibition refers to the process by which muscles on one side of a joint relax to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. It is sometimes referred to as reciprocal innervation, however this is a misnomer because the agonists inhibit, or relax, the antagonists. The antagonists do not actually innervate (cause the contraction of) the agonists. In reciprocal inhibition, afferent nerve fibers from the contracting muscle excite inhibitory interneurons in the spinal cord; the interneurons, by inhibiting certain motor neurons, cause an antagonist muscle to relax.
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