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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Jan;112(1):135-44. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-1958-4. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Changes in muscle contractile characteristics and jump height following 24 days of unilateral lower limb suspension.

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  • 1Research Institute MOVE, VU University, Van der Boechorststraat 9, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


We measured changes in maximal voluntary and electrically evoked torque and rate of torque development because of limb unloading. We investigated whether these changes during single joint isometric muscle contractions were related to changes in jump performance involving dynamic muscle contractions and several joints. Six healthy male subjects (21 ± 1 years) underwent 3 weeks of unilateral lower limb suspension (ULLS) of the right limb. Plantar flexor and knee extensor maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque and maximal rate of torque development (MRTD), voluntary activation, and maximal triplet torque (thigh; 3 pulses at 300 Hz) were measured next to squat jump height before and after ULLS. MVC of plantar flexors and knee extensors (MVCke) and triplet torque decreased by 12% (P = 0.012), 21% (P = 0.001) and 11% (P = 0.016), respectively. Voluntary activation did not change (P = 0.192). Absolute MRTD during voluntary contractions decreased for plantar flexors (by 17%, P = 0.027) but not for knee extensors (P = 0.154). Absolute triplet MRTD decreased by 17% (P = 0.048). The reduction in MRTD disappeared following normalization to MVC. Jump height with the previously unloaded leg decreased significantly by 28%. No significant relationships were found between any muscle variable and jump height (r < 0.48), but decreases in torque were (triplet, r = 0.83, P = 0.04) or tended to be (MVCke r = 0.71, P = 0.11) related to decreases in jump height. Thus, reductions in isometric muscle torque following 3 weeks of limb unloading were significantly related to decreases in the more complex jump task, although torque in itself (without intervention) was not related to jump performance.

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