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Muscle Atrophy, Pain, and Damage in Bed Rest Reduced by Resistive (Vibration) Exercise


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 2014 - Volume 46 - Issue 8 - p 1506–1516
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000279
Basic Sciences

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a short-duration (5–6 min, 3 d·wk−1) resistive exercise program with (RVE) or without (RE) whole-body vibration in reducing muscle atrophy in the lower limb during prolonged inactivity when compared with that in an inactive control group.

Methods: As part of the second Berlin BedRest Study, 24 male subjects underwent 60 d of head-down tilt bed rest. Using magnetic resonance imaging, muscle volumes of the individual muscles of the lower limb were calculated before and at various intervals during and after bed rest. Pain levels and markers of muscle damage were also evaluated during and after bed rest. Adjustment of P values to guard against false positives was performed via the false discovery rate method.

Results: On the “intent-to-treat” analysis, RE reduced atrophy of the medial and lateral gastrocnemius, soleus, vasti, tibialis posterior, flexor hallucis longus, and flexor digitorum longus (P ≤ 0.045 vs control group) and RVE reduced atrophy of the medial and lateral gastrocnemius and tibialis posterior (P ≤ 0.044). Pain intensity reports after bed rest were lower in RE at the foot (P ≤ 0.033) and whole lower limb (P = 0.01) and in RVE at the thigh (P ≤ 0.041), lower leg (P ≤ 0.01), and whole lower limb (P ≤ 0.036). Increases in sarcomere-specific creatine kinase after bed rest were less in RE (P = 0.020) and RVE (P = 0.020). No differences between RE and RVE were observed.

Conclusions: In conclusion, a short-duration RVE or RE can be effective in reducing the effect of prolonged bed rest on lower extremity muscle volume loss during bed rest and muscle damage and pain after bed rest.

1Centre for Muscle and Bone Research, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, GERMANY; 2Novotec Medical GmbH, Pforzheim, GERMANY; 3Labor Limbach, Abteilung für Endokrinologie und Onkologie, Heidelberg, GERMANY; and 4Aerpah Klinik Esslingen, Esslingen, GERMANY

Address for correspondence: Daniel L. Belavý, B.Phty., Ph.D., Centre for Muscle and Bone Research, Charité University Medical School, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Hindenburgdamm 30, D-12200 Berlin, Germany; E-mail:

Submitted for publication August 2013.

Accepted for publication December 2013.

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© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine