Evidence indicates that low-level laser therapy (LLLT) minimizes fatigue effects on muscle performance. However, the ideal LLLT dosage to improve athletes’performance during sports activities such as cycling is still unclear. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate the effects of different LLLT dosages on cyclists’performance in time-to-exhaustion tests. In addition, the effects of LLLT on the frequency content of the EMG signals to assess fatigue mechanisms were examined. Twenty male competitive cyclists participated in a crossover, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. They performed an incremental cycling test to exhaustion (on day 1) followed by 4 time-to-exhaustion tests (on days 2–5) at their individual maximal power output. Before each time-to-exhaustion test, different dosages of LLLT (135, 270, and 405 J/thigh, respectively) or placebo were applied at the quadriceps muscle bilaterally. Power output and muscle activation from both lower limbs were recorded throughout the tests. Increased performance in time-to-exhaustion tests was observed with the LLLT-135 J (∼22 s; P < .01), LLLT-270 J (∼13 s; P = .03), and LLLT-405 J (∼13 s; P = .02) compared to placebo (149 ± 23 s). Although LLLT-270 J and LLLT-405 J did not show significant differences in muscle activation compared with placebo, LLLT-135 J led to an increased high-frequency content compared with placebo in both limbs at the end of the exhaustion test (P ≤ .03). In conclusion, LLLT increased time to exhaustion in competitive cyclists, suggesting this intervention as a possible nonpharmacological ergogenic agent in cycling. Among the different dosages, LLLT-135 J seems to promote the best effects.
Fábio J. Lanferdini, Rodrigo R. Bini, Bruno M. Baroni, Kelli D. Klein, Felipe P. Carpes, and Marco A. Vaz
Fábio J. Lanferdini, Rodrigo R. Bini, Pedro Figueiredo, Fernando Diefenthaeler, Carlos B. Mota, Anton Arndt, and Marco A. Vaz
To employ cluster analysis to assess if cyclists would opt for different strategies in terms of neuromuscular patterns when pedaling at the power output of their second ventilatory threshold (POVT2) compared with cycling at their maximal power output (POMAX).
Twenty athletes performed an incremental cycling test to determine their power output (POMAX and POVT2; first session), and pedal forces, muscle activation, muscle–tendon unit length, and vastus lateralis architecture (fascicle length, pennation angle, and muscle thickness) were recorded (second session) in POMAX and POVT2. Athletes were assigned to 2 clusters based on the behavior of outcome variables at POVT2 and POMAX using cluster analysis.
Clusters 1 (n = 14) and 2 (n = 6) showed similar power output and oxygen uptake. Cluster 1 presented larger increases in pedal force and knee power than cluster 2, without differences for the index of effectiveness. Cluster 1 presented less variation in knee angle, muscle–tendon unit length, pennation angle, and tendon length than cluster 2. However, clusters 1 and 2 showed similar muscle thickness, fascicle length, and muscle activation. When cycling at POVT2 vs POMAX, cyclists could opt for keeping a constant knee power and pedal-force production, associated with an increase in tendon excursion and a constant fascicle length.
Increases in power output lead to greater variations in knee angle, muscle–tendon unit length, tendon length, and pennation angle of vastus lateralis for a similar knee-extensor activation and smaller pedal-force changes in cyclists from cluster 2 than in cluster 1.