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Jumping in Simulated and True Microgravity: Response to Maximal Efforts with Three Landing Types

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D’Andrea SE, Perusek GP, Rajulu S, Perry J, Davis BL. Jumping in simulated and true microgravity: response to maximal efforts with three landing types. Aviat Space Environ Med 2005; 76:441–447.

Background: Exercise is a promising countermeasure to the physiological deconditioning experienced in microgravity, but has not proven effective in eliminating the ongoing loss of bone mineral, most likely due to the lack of high-impact forces and loading rates during in-flight activity. We wanted to determine lower-extremity response to high-impact jumping exercises in true and simulated microgravity and establish if 1-G force magnitudes can be achieved in a weightless environment. Methods: Jumping experiments were performed in a ground-based zero-gravity simulator (ZGS) in 1 G, and during parabolic flight with a gravity-replacement system. There were 12 subjects who participated in the study, with 4 subjects common to both conditions. Force, loading rates, jump height, and kinematics were analyzed during jumps with three distinct landings: two-footed toe-heel, one-footed toe-heel, and flat-footed. Gravity replacement loads of 45%, 60%, 75%, and 100% bodyweight were used in the ZGS; because of time constraints, these loads were limited to 60% and 75% bodyweight in parabolic flight. Results: Average peak ground-reaction forces during landing ranged between 1902 ± 607 and 2631 ± 663 N in the ZGS and between 1683 ± 807 and 2683 ± 1174 N in the KC-135. No significant differences were found between the simulated and true microgravity conditions, but neither condition achieved the magnitudes found in 1 G. Conclusion: Data support the hypothesis that jumping exercises can impart high-impact forces during weightlessness and that the custom-designed ZGS will replicate what is experienced in true microgravity.

Keywords: biomechanics; exercise countermeasures; microgravity simulators; musculoskeletal loading

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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