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High-density surface EMG study on the time course of central nervous and peripheral neuromuscular changes during 8 weeks of bed rest with or without resistive vibration exercise

Mulder, Edwin R. and Gerrits, Karin H. and Kleine, B and Rittweger, Jörn and Felsenberg, Dieter and De Haan, Arnold and Stegeman, Dick F. (2009) High-density surface EMG study on the time course of central nervous and peripheral neuromuscular changes during 8 weeks of bed rest with or without resistive vibration exercise. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 19 (2). pp. 208-218. ISSN 1873-5711

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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to assess the time course and the origin of adaptations in neuromuscular function as a consequence of prolonged bed rest with or without countermeasure. Twenty healthy males volunteered to participate in the present study and were randomly assigned to either an inactive control group (Ctrl) or to a resistive vibration exercise (RVE) group. Prior to, and seven times during bed rest, we recorded high-density surface electromyogram (sEMG) signals from the vastus lateralis muscle during isometric knee extension exercise at a range of contraction intensities (5–100% of maximal voluntary isometric torque). The high-density sEMG signals were analyzed for amplitude (root mean square, RMS), frequency content (median frequency, Fmed) and muscle fiber conduction velocity (MFCV) in an attempt to describe bed rest-induced changes in neural activation properties at the levels of the motor control and muscle fibers. Without countermeasures, bed rest resulted in a significant progressive decline in maximal isometric knee extension strength, whereas RMS remained unaltered throughout the bed rest period. In line with observed muscle atrophy, both Fmed and MFCV declined during bed rest. RVE training during bed rest resulted in maintained maximal isometric knee extension strength, and a strong increase (30%) in maximal EMG amplitude, from 10 days of bed rest on. Exclusion of other factors led to the conclusion that the RVE training increased motor unit firing rates as a consequence of an increased excitability of motor neurons. An increased firing rate might have been essential under training sessions, but it did not affect isometric voluntary torque capacity.

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