Context: The combined effect of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and blood flow restriction (BFR) on muscle mass and strength has not been thoroughly investigated. Objective: To examine the effects of combined and independent BFR and a low-intensity NMES on skeletal muscle adaptation. Design: Exploratory study. Setting: Laboratory. Participants: Twenty recreationally active subjects. Main Outcome Measures: Subjects had each leg randomly allocated to 1 of 4 possible intervention groups: (1) cyclic BFR alone, (2) NMES alone, (3) BFR + NMES, or (4) control. Each leg was stimulated in its respective intervention group for 32 minutes, 4 days per week for 6 weeks. Mean differences in size (in grams) and isometric strength (in kilograms), between week 0 and week 6, were calculated for each group. Results: Leg strength increased 32 (19) kg in the BFR + NMES group, which differed from the 3 (11) kg change in the control group (P = .03). The isolated NMES and BFR groups revealed increases of 16 (28) kg and 18 (17) kg, respectively, but these did not statistically differ from the control, or one another. No alterations were statistically significant for leg size. Conclusion: Compared with a control that received no treatment, the novel combination of BFR and NMES led to increasing muscular strength of the knee extensors, but not muscle mass which had a large interindividual variability in response.
Joshua T. Slysz and Jamie F. Burr
Christian P. Cheung, Joshua T. Slysz and Jamie F. Burr
Purpose: Ischemic preconditioning (IPC) through purposeful circulatory occlusion may enhance exercise performance. The value of IPC for improving performance is controversial owing to challenges with employing effective placebo controls. This study examines the efficacy of IPC versus a deceptive sham protocol for improving performance to determine whether benefits of IPC are attributable to true physiological effects. It was hypothesized that IPC would favorably alter performance more than a sham treatment and that physiological responses to exercise would be affected only after IPC treatment. Methods: In a randomized order, 16 participants performed incremental exercise to exhaustion on a cycle ergometer in control conditions and after sham and IPC treatments. Participants rated their belief as to the efficacy of each treatment compared with control. Results: Time to exhaustion was greatest after IPC (control = 1331  s, IPC = 1429  s, sham = 1343  s, P = .02), despite negative performance expectations after IPC and positive expectation after sham. Maximal aerobic power remained unchanged after both SHAM and IPC (control = 42.0 [5.2], IPC = 41.7 [5.5], sham = 41.6 [5.5] mL·kg−1·min−1, P = .7), as did submaximal lactate concentration (control = 8.9 [2.6], sham = 8.0 [1.9], IPC = 7.7 [2.1] mmol, P = .1) and oxygen uptake (control = 37.8 [4.8], sham = 37.5 [5.3], IPC = 37.5 [5.5] mL·kg−1·min−1, P = .6). Conclusions: IPC before cycling exercise provides an ergogenic benefit that is not attributable to a placebo effect from positive expectation and that was not explained by traditionally suggested mechanisms.