JOURNAL ARTICLE

Evidence for restricted muscle blood flow during speed skating

C Foster, K W Rundell, A C Snyder, J Stray-Gundersen, G Kemkers, N Thometz, J Broker, E Knapp
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 1999, 31 (10): 1433-40
10527316

INTRODUCTION: We have previously hypothesized restricted muscle blood flow during speed skating, secondary to the high intramuscular forces intrinsic to the unique posture assumed by speed skaters and to the prolonged duty cycle of the skating stroke.

METHODS: To test this hypothesis, we studied speed skaters (N = 10) during submaximal and maximal cycling and in-line skating, in both low (knee angle = 107 degrees) and high (knee angle = 112 degrees) skating positions (CE vs SkL vs SkH). Supportive experiments evaluated muscle desaturation and lactate accumulation during on-ice speed skating and muscle desaturation during static exercise at different joint positions.

RESULTS: Consistent with the hypothesis were reductions during skating in VO2peak (4.28 vs 3.83 vs 4.26 L x min(-1)), the VO2 at 4 mmol x L(-1) blood lactate (3.38 vs 1.93 vs 3.31 L x min(-1)), and cardiac output during maximal exercise (33.2 vs 25.3 vs 25.6 L x min(-1)). The reduction in maximal cardiac output was not attributable to differences in HRmax (197 vs 192 vs 193 b x min(-1)) but to a reduction in SVmax (172 vs 135 vs 134 mL x beat(-1)). The reduction in SV appeared to be related to an increased calculated systemic vascular resistance (354 vs 483 vs 453 dynes x s(-1) x cm(-1)). During maximal skating there was also a greater % O2 desaturation of the vastus lateralis based on near infrared spectrophotometry (50.3 vs 74.9 vs 60.4% of maximal desaturation during cuff ischemia). The results were supported by greater desaturation with smaller knee angles during static exercise and by greater desaturation and accelerated blood lactate accumulation during on-ice speed skating in the low vs high position. The results of this study support the hypothesis that physiological responses during speed skating are dominated by restriction of blood flow, attributable either to high intramuscular forces, the long duty cycle of the skating stroke, or both.

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