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Muscle strength during bedrest with and without muscle exercise as a countermeasure.

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Aix-Marseille II Université, UFR STAPS 163, Marseille, France.


Bedrest is known to be a useful experimental model for simulating weightlessness and studying its effects on human skeletal muscle activity. We therefore conducted a study in which 12 healthy male subjects underwent 28 days of continuous exposure to 6 degrees head-down bedrest. Our main objective was to test a set of preventive countermeasures for maintaining the stability of the human body. Of the subjects 6 performed deadlifts in the supine position for 30 to 45 min each day. The isometric actions were performed for 5-30 s at 90, 120 and 150 degrees knee angles and isokinetic training at speeds of 30 and 180 degrees.s-1. In vivo quadriceps muscle strength was measured under controlled experimental conditions with a commercial dynamometer. The hypothesis that intense daily isometric and isokinetic leg exercise and lower body negative pressure (LBNP) might serve to maintain muscle strength under conditions of weightlessness was tested. Of the subjects 6, who did not perform any exercise, served as the control population under conditions of simulated weightlessness. The results showed that a significant reduction (P < or = 0.0001) in the muscle force [-10.3 (SD 6.7%)] occurred in the control group whereas no significant changes were observed in the trained group [+3.9 (6.8%)]. From these studies we conclude that intense muscle training and LBNP constitute efficient countermeasures to compensate for the biomechanical effects of weightlessness on human lower limbs and to limit other factors such as cardiovascular deconditioning.

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