Purpose: Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a recovery strategy whose use has increased in recent years owing to the benefits observed in the clinical setting in some cardiovascular diseases (ie, improvement of cardiovascular function). However, its claimed effectiveness for the enhancement of exercise recovery has not been analyzed in athletes. The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of EECP on short-term recovery after a fatiguing exercise bout. Methods: Twelve elite junior triathletes (16  y) participated in this crossover counterbalanced study. After a high-intensity interval training session (6 bouts of 3-min duration at maximal intensity interspersed with 3-min rest periods), participants were assigned to recover during 30 min with EECP (80 mm Hg) or sham (0 mm Hg). Measures of recovery included performance (jump height and mean power during an 8-min time trial), metabolic (blood lactate concentration at several time points), autonomic (heart-rate variability at several time points), and subjective (rating of perceived exertion [RPE] and readiness to compete) outcomes. Results: There were no differences between EECP and sham in mean RPE or power output during the high-intensity interval training session, which elicited a significant performance impairment, vagal withdrawal, and increased blood lactate and RPE in both EECP and sham conditions (all P < .05). No significant differences were found in performance, metabolic, or subjective outcomes between conditions at any time point. A significantly lower high-frequency power (P < .05, effect size = 1.06), a marker of parasympathetic activity, was observed with EECP at the end of the recovery phase. Conclusion: EECP did not enhance short-term recovery after a high-intensity interval training session in healthy, highly trained individuals.
Pedro L. Valenzuela, Guillermo Sánchez-Martínez, Elaia Torrontegi, Zigor Montalvo, Alejandro Lucia and Pedro de la Villa
Pedro L. Valenzuela, Guillermo Sánchez-Martínez, Elaia Torrontegi, Javier Vázquez-Carrión, Manuela González, Zigor Montalvo and Grégoire P. Millet
Purpose: Repeated-sprint training (RS) is commonly conducted in normoxia, but its completion with localized (blood-flow restriction [BFR]) or systemic hypoxia has been proven effective for performance enhancement. Yet, few studies have applied these types of RS sessions in racket sports. The authors aimed to determine the acute responses to these types of training in elite badminton players. Methods: Eight male elite badminton players participated in this randomized crossover study. They performed 3 on-court RS sessions, each consisting of 3 sets of 10 repetitions of 10-s badminton-specific movements in normoxia (RSN), systemic normobaric hypoxia (RSH, FiO2 = 14%), or with BFR (RS-BFR, 40% arterial occlusion pressure). Performance, perceptual (ie, rating of perceived exertion), and physiological (ie, pulse saturation, muscle oxygenation, blood lactate, creatine kinase, heart-rate variability) responses were measured after each set and up to 48 h postsession. Results: RS-BFR induced a greater performance impairment (lower distance and accelerations) and a higher local perceived exertion in the legs than RSN and RSH (P < .05), whereas greater overall fatigue was reported with RSH (P < .05). RSH induced a lower saturation (P < .001), but no differences were observed in muscle oxygenation between conditions. No differences in creatine kinase or heart-rate variability were observed at any time point (from baseline up to 48 h after the session). Conclusions: RS-BFR—and, to a lower extent, RSH—resulted in impaired performance and a higher perceived strain than RSN. However, these 2 hypoxic methods do not seem to induce a long-lasting (post 24–48 h) physiological stress in elite badminton players.
Pedro L. Valenzuela, Carlos Amo, Guillermo Sánchez-Martínez, Elaia Torrontegi, Javier Vázquez-Carrión, Zigor Montalvo, Alejandro Lucia and Pedro de la Villa
Purpose: To determine if transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) could be effective for the enhancement of swimming performance or mood state in elite athletes. Methods : Eight male elite triathletes (age = 20  y, maximal oxygen uptake = 71  mL·kg−1·min−1) participated in this crossover, counterbalanced, sham-controlled, double-blind study. Participants received either actual (20 min of anodal stimulation of the motor cortex at 2 mA) or sham tDCS and performed an 800-m swimming test in which rating of perceived exertion and blood lactate response were measured. Mood state (Brunel Mood Scale) was assessed before and after each tDCS session and after the swimming test. Heart-rate variability and central nervous system readiness were assessed before and after each tDCS session. The chances of finding differences between conditions were determined using magnitude-based inferences. Results : A significant and very likely higher Brunel Mood Scale–determined vigor self-perception was found with actual tDCS after the stimulation session (−0.1 [1.2] and 2.0 [2.3] for sham and actual tDCS, respectively; P = .018, effect size = 1.14) and after exercise (−4.1 [2.9] and −0.9 [3.6] for sham and actual tDCS, respectively; P = .022, effect size = 0.98). However, likely trivial and nonsignificant (P > .05) differences were found between conditions in performance (599  s and 596  s, respectively). Unclear and nonsignificant differences were observed between conditions for the rest of the study end points. Conclusions : tDCS elicited a marked increase in vigor self-perception that was maintained after exercise but failed to improve swimming performance in elite triathletes.