European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 261–271 | Cite as

Human skeletal muscle structure and function preserved by vibration muscle exercise following 55 days of bed rest

  • Dieter Blottner
  • Michele Salanova
  • Britta Püttmann
  • Gudrun Schiffl
  • Dieter Felsenberg
  • Björn Buehring
  • Jörn Rittweger
Original Article


Prolonged immobilization of the human body results in functional impairments and musculoskeletal system deconditioning that may be attenuated by adequate muscle exercise. In a 56-day horizontal bed rest campaign involving voluntary males we investigated the effects of vibration muscle exercise (RVE, 2×6 min daily) on the lower limb skeletal muscles using a newly designed foot plantar trainer (Galileo Space) for use at supine position during bed rest. The maximally voluntary isometric plantar flexion force was maintained following regular RVE bouts during bed rest (controls −18.6 %, P<0.05). At the start (BR2) and end of bed rest (BR55) muscle biopsies were taken from both mixed fast/slow-type vastus lateralis (VL) and mainly slow-type soleus muscle (SOL), each having n=10. RVE group: the size of myofiber types I and II was largely unchanged in VL, and increased in SOL. Ctrl group: the SOL depicted a disrupted pattern of myofibers I/II profiles (i.e., type II>140 % vs. preBR) suggesting a slow-to-fast muscle phenotype shift. In RVE-trained SOL, however, an overall conserved myofiber I/II pattern was documented. RVE training increased the activity-dependent expression of nitric oxide synthase type 1 immunofluorescence at SOL and VL myofiber membranes. These data provide evidence for the beneficial effects of RVE training on the deconditioned structure and function of the lower limb skeletal muscle. Daily short RVE should be employed as an effective atrophy countermeasure co-protocol preferentially addressing postural calf muscles during prolonged clinical immobilization or long-term human space missions.


Skeletal muscle atrophy Neuromuscular disorders Countermeasure Rehabilitation Spaceflight 



This study was supported by grants from the ESA, grant # 14431/02/NL/SH2, Center for Muscle and Bone Research (ZMK), Charité Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin (to D.F.), German AeroSpace (DLR), Center of Space Medicine Berlin (ZWMB,, Charité CBF, grant # 50WB0145 (to D.B.). Special thanks go to the volunteers, the staff of the Radiology Department at CBF, and to all enthusiastic participants of the Berlin Bed Rest Study 2003 and 2004.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dieter Blottner
    • 1
  • Michele Salanova
    • 1
  • Britta Püttmann
    • 1
  • Gudrun Schiffl
    • 1
  • Dieter Felsenberg
    • 2
  • Björn Buehring
    • 2
  • Jörn Rittweger
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Vegetative Anatomy, Center of Space Medicine Berlin, Neuromuscular GroupCharité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin FranklinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Center for Muscle and Bone Research (ZMK)Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin FranklinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Biophysical and Clinical Research into Human Movement Manchester Metropolitan University AlsagerUK

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