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Locations of Reflex Points on the Body

author image Leigha Butler
Leigha Butler is co-owner of The Yoga House in Kingston, N.Y., where she teaches Vinyasa and Ashtanga-based yoga classes and workshops. Her teaching emphasizes anatomical alignment, individual modifications and hands-on adjustments. She is also a lecturer in college English, specializing in literature of the environment. Butler holds a Master of Arts in English from University of Nevada, Reno.
Locations of Reflex Points on the Body
A reflex hammer. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

When a doctor tests your reflexes, she looks not only for movement of the stimulated muscle but also for speed and briskness of reaction. Slow or diminished reflexes can indicate a localized problem or a remote disease affecting neural function, likely near the spine. Abnormal reflex response ranges from absent or subtle, known as hyporeflexia, to overly brisk or repeating, known as hyperreflexia. With a partner, you can gauge your own reflex responses.

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The achilles tendon connects the heel and the shin.
The achilles tendon connects the heel and the shin. Photo Credit: 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images

To test this reflex, lie belly down, or kneel on a chair, with your ankles extended beyond the bed or chair. The toes should point down, ankles facing the ceiling. Have a partner push your toes into flexion as he taps the achilles tendon with a hammer or sharply with a finger. In a normal reflex, the foot either kicks back or forward. The tester should then tap on either side of the tendon to gauge briskness of the reflex.


The patellar reflex.
The patellar reflex. Photo Credit: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Many a schoolchild has tested the patellar reflex on her friends. Accurate placement of the percussion hammer is at the soft spot between the bottom of the knee cap and the top of the tibia. A healthy reflex looks like a kick and indicates proper functioning of the spinal cord, the nerves that run along it and the motor cortex of the brain. Diminished, subtle or absent reflex at the knee, known as the Erb-Westphal sign, could mean there is a problem near the vertebrae, such as a herniated disc or peripheral nerve disease.


The radial nerve reflex is located at the forearm.
The radial nerve reflex is located at the forearm. Photo Credit: Keith Brofsky/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The forearm reflex is known as the radial nerve reflex, or the extensor digitorum reflex, named after the muscle that runs from the elbow down the forearm to the wrist. Healthy reflex response is an indicator of normal neurologial function. A latent, or abnormal, reflex could indicate pathology of the radial nerve. To test this reflex, have a partner relax or partly flex their hands, then tap the thumb-side of forearm muscle a few inches above the wrist. In a healthy response, your partner's fingers will suddenly extend.

Upper Arm

A healthy biceps reflex causes a flex muscle.
A healthy biceps reflex causes a flex muscle. Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

The biceps reflex tests function of the nerves of the upper arm and the C5 and C6 vertebrae of the cervical spine. To test it on a partner, have him sit with a relaxed arm. The arm should be slightly bent at the elbow. Find the place where the biceps muscle connects to the inner elbow. Using your thumb, place light pressure on the bicep and strike your own thumb with a reflex hammer. Proper functioning of the reflex causes a bicep curling motion that bends the elbow joint.

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