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David Giles, Joel B. Chidley, Nicola Taylor, Ollie Torr, Josh Hadley, Tom Randall and Simon Fryer

Purpose: To determine if the mathematical model used for the estimation of critical force (CF) and the energy store component W′ are applicable to intermittent isometric muscle actions of the finger flexors of rock climbers, using a multisession test. As a secondary aim, the agreement of estimates of CF and W′ from a single-session test was also determined. The CF was defined as the slope coefficient, and W′ was the intercept of the linear relationship between total “isometric work” (W lim) and time to exhaustion (T lim). Methods: Subjects performed 3 (separated by either 20 min or >24 h) tests to failure using intermittent isometric finger-flexor contractions at 45%, 60%, and 80% of their maximum voluntary contraction. Results: Force plotted against T lim displayed a hyperbolic relationship; correlation coefficients of the parameter estimates from the work–time CF model were consistently very high (R 2 > .94). Climbers’ mean CF was 425.7 (82.8) N (41.0% [6.2%] maximum voluntary contraction) and W′ was 30,882 (11,820) N·s. Good agreement was found between the single-session and multisession protocol for CF (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC3,1] = .900; 95% confidence interval, .616–.979), but not for W′ (ICC3,1 = .768; 95% confidence interval, .190–.949). Conclusions: The results demonstrated the sensitivity of a simple test for the determination of CF and W′, using equipment readily available in most climbing gyms. Although further work is still necessary, the test of CF described is of value for understanding exercise tolerance and to determine optimal training prescription to monitor improvements in the performance of the finger flexors.

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David Giles, Vanesa España Romero, Inmaculada Garrido, Alejandro de la O Puerta, Keeron Stone and Simon Fryer

Purpose:

To examine differences in oxygenation kinetics in the nondominant and dominant flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) of rock climbers.

Methods:

Participants were 28 sport climbers with a range of on-site abilities (6a+ to 8a French Sport). Using near-infrared spectroscopy, oxygenation kinetics of the FDP was assessed by calculating the time to half recovery (t 1/2 recovery) of the tissue-saturation index (TSI) after 3–5 min of ischemia.

Results:

A 2-way mixed-model ANOVA found a nonsignificant interaction (P = .112) for TSI by sex. However, there was a significant main effect (P = .027) of handedness (dominant vs nondominant FDP). The dominant forearm recovered 13.6% faster (t 1/2 recovery mean difference = 1.12 s, 95% CI 0.13–2.10 s) than the nondominant FDP. This was not affected by 6-mo on-site climbing ability or sex (P = .839, P = .683).

Conclusions:

Significant intraindividual differences in oxygenation kinetics of the FDP were found. Improvements in oxygenation kinetics in the FDP are likely due to the abilities of the muscle to deliver, perfuse, and consume oxygen. These enhancements may be due to structural adaptations in the microvasculature, such as an increase in capillary density and enhanced improvement in capillary filtration.

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Simon Fryer, Tabitha Dickson, Stephen Hillier, Lee Stoner, Carl Scarrott and Nick Draper

Venipuncture is expensive, invasive, and impractical for many sport-science and clinical-based settings. Salivary free cortisol is often cited as a noninvasive practical alternative. However, when cortisol concentrations exceed the corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) point of 500 nmol/L, a lack of agreement between salivary and venous blood cortisol has been found. Alternatively, capillary blood may present a minimally invasive, cost-effective, and practical surrogate for determining cortisol concentration.

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to determine whether cortisol concentrations sampled from capillary blood and saliva accurately reflect those found in venous blood across a large range of concentrations after intense exercise.

Methods:

Eleven healthy aerobically trained male subjects were recruited. Capillary, salivary, and venous blood samples were collected before and after (immediately and 5, 10, 15, and 20 min after) a treadmill VO2 max test.

Results:

Capillary and venous concentrations increased at a similar rate after exercise (Cohen d.14–.33), increasing up to 15 min postexercise before a decline was seen. Salivary cortisol values increased at a slower rate than venous and capillary cortisol but continued to increase 15 min postexercise (Cohen d .19–.47 and .09–.72, respectively).

Conclusions:

Capillary cortisol accurately reflects concentrations assayed from venous blood across a range of values below and above the CBG binding point. Capillary sampling provides a minimally invasive, cost-effective, practical surrogate for assessment of hypothalamic-pituitary-gland function.