Exercise and Transversus Abdominis Muscle Atrophy after 60-d Bed Rest

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This study aimed to investigate atrophy in the deep abdominal muscles, spinal extensors, and the effect of high-load resistive exercise with and without whole-body vibration after 60 d of strict bed rest.


Twenty-four subjects underwent 60 d of head-down tilt bed rest and performed either resistive vibration exercise (RVE), resistive exercise only (RE), or no exercise control (2nd Berlin BedRest Study). The thickness of the transversus abdominis, internal oblique, and erector spinae muscles and the area of the multifidus muscle were measured bilaterally via real-time ultrasound. Intention-to-treat analysis was implemented, and P values were adjusted by the false discovery rate method.


At the end of the bed rest, transversus abdominis thickness was reduced by 18.3% in the inactive group (P = 0.00011) with no significant change in the RVE (−4.0%; P = 0.014 vs control) or RE (−5.0%; P = 0.10 vs control) groups. In the inactive subjects, internal oblique thickness reduced by 10.6% (P = 0.0025) and by 7% (P > 0.05) in each of the training groups. The lengthening of the lumbar spine was greatest on day 1 (+7.4%, P = 0.004) and day 2 (+6.3%, P = 0.004; day 54: +4.1%, P = 0.023). A 4.7% reduction of multifidus area was observed on day 1 of bed rest (P = 0.0049) and a 4.2% reduction of erector spinae thickness was observed on day 2 (P = 0.0011). Extensor atrophy and spinal lengthening was not affected by exercise. No significant difference was seen between RVE and RE.


Bed rest leads to atrophy of the transversus abdominis and internal oblique muscles. The exercise program, which implemented lower-limb and back extension exercises against shoulder restraints, was able to reduce atrophy seen in transversus abdominis in bed rest.

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