Please activate JavaScript!
Please install Adobe Flash Player, click here for download

uni'wissen 02(4)-2011_ENG

his feet against the resistance of weights. Finally, in the balance control exercises the board on springs under the feet swings back and forth, forcing the exerciser to counteract the vibrations with movements – also under the influence of simulated gravity. This exercise is designed to help astronauts retain their coordination, says Gollhofer: “When astronauts land on Mars, it is very important for them to have a functioning sense of coordination. After all, there is also gravity on Mars.” The University of Freiburg researchers are de- veloping the exercise equipment in cooperation with the space agencies and partners from the private sector. At present, they are testing the systems one by one. “But ideally, we’d like to de- velop a single device with which the astronauts can do all three exercises,” says Ritzmann. Not only would this save space but also time: Even a well-trained athlete would be worn out after about 20 minutes of vibration training or several dozen jumps. In two or three years, estimates Gollhofer, the exercise equipment developed in Freiburg could be flown to the ISS for testing. In addition, many projects intended originally for space research end up giving birth to technical innovations with applications in everyday life. For instance, the exercise equipment could also be used for rehabilitation therapy or for prevention on Earth, particularly for older people with only limited mobility. They are not, on the other hand, suitable for high-performance sports: “Top ath- letes require training programs that are tailored more precisely to their needs.” What goes up must come down: The pilots follow a flight path ­resembling a parabolic arc, thus ­enabling scientists to perform ­experiments in a zero-gravity ­environment for the space of ­ 22 seconds. Image: Novespace Ramona Ritzmann is working toward her ­doctorate at the Depart- ment of Human Movement Studies of the University of Freiburg and at the ­Institute of Exercise and Movement Science of the University of Potsdam. She studied at the University of Freiburg from 2001 to 2008, where she completed the First State Examination in the fields of sports science and mathematics in 2007. One year later she complet- ed her magister degree in the same two fields. She conducts research in the area of biomechanical movement analysis and on the functioning of the nervous system during ­exercise in a zero-gravity atmosphere. Prof. Dr. Albert Gollhofer has served as professor at and director of the Institute of Sports Science and Physical Education of the University of Freiburg since 2000. He studied physical education, performance psychology, and physics at the University of Freiburg, earned his doctorate in 1986, and completed his habilitation in 1993 with a study on exercise variation and motor coordination. He then accepted a post as professor for sports sci- ence with an emphasis on applied biomechanics at the University of Stuttgart. From 2005 to 2009 he also served as president of the sports science organization European College of Sport Science. His research in- terests include neuromus- cular adaptation mecha- nisms, motor control, and biomechanics. Further Reading Visit einzelforschungs­projekte/raumfahrforschung/ to view a gallery with more pictures taken during the research project. Sports scientist Ramona Ritzmann explains what is happening on the photos. Kramer, A./Ritzmann, R./Gollhofer, A./Gehring, D./Gruber, M. (2010): A new sledge jump system that allows almost natural reactive jumps. In: Journal of Biomechanics 43/14, p. 2672 – 2677. Ritzmann, R./Kramer, A./Gruber, M./Gollhofer, A./Taube, W. (2010): EMG activity during whole body vibration: motion artifacts or stretch ­reflexes? In: European Journal of Applied Physiology 110/1, p. 143 – 151. 23uni'wissen 04