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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008 Jul;103(4):431-40. doi: 10.1007/s00421-008-0724-8.

Characteristics of fast voluntary and electrically evoked isometric knee extensions during 56 days of bed rest with and without exercise countermeasure.

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  • 1Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The contractile characteristics of fast voluntary and electrically evoked unilateral isometric knee extensions were followed in 16 healthy men during 56 days of horizontal bed rest and assessed at bed rest days 4, 7, 10, 17, 24, 38 and 56. Subjects were randomized to either an inactive control group (Ctrl, n = 8) or a resistive vibration exercise countermeasure group (RVE, n = 8). No changes were observed in neural activation, indicated by the amplitude of the surface electromyogram, or the initial rate of voluntary torque development in either group during bed rest. In contrast, for Ctrl, the force oscillation amplitude at 10 Hz stimulation increased by 48% (P < 0.01), the time to reach peak torque at 300 Hz stimulation decreased by 7% (P < 0.01), and the half relaxation time at 150 Hz stimulation tended to be slightly reduced by 3% (P = 0.056) after 56 days of bed rest. No changes were observed for RVE. Torque production at 10 Hz stimulation relative to maximal (150 Hz) stimulation was increased after bed rest for both Ctrl (15%; P < 0.05) and RVE (41%; P < 0.05). In conclusion, bed rest without exercise countermeasure resulted in intrinsic speed properties of a faster knee extensor group, which may have partly contributed to the preserved ability to perform fast voluntary contractions. The changes in intrinsic contractile properties were prevented by resistive vibration exercise, and voluntary motor performance remained unaltered for RVE subjects as well.

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