Reliability of Near-Infrared Spectroscopy with and without Compression Tights during Exercise and Recovery Activities


Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is widely used in sports science research, despite the limited reliability of available data. The aim of the present study was to assess the reliability of NIRS with and without compression tights. Thirteen healthy active males, (age 21.5 ± 2.7 years, body mass 82.1 ± 11.2 kg, BMI 24.6 ± 3.2 kg·m−2) completed four trials (two control trials and two trials using compression tights) over a 28-day period. During each trial, participants completed 20 min each of laying supine, sitting, walking (4 km·h−1), jogging, and sitting following the jogging. An NIRS device was attached to the muscle belly of the vastus lateralis and gastrocnemius and recorded tissue saturation index (TSI), muscle oxygenation, and muscle deoxygenation. Systematic bias and 95% limits of agreement (LOA) and coefficient of variation (CV) were used to report reliability measures for each activity type. For TSI, systematic bias (LOA) at the gastrocnemius during the control and tights trial ranged from −0.4 to 1.7% (4.4 to 10.3%) and −1.9 to 3.5% (8.1 to 12.0%), respectively. For the vastus lateralis, the systematic bias (LOA) for the control trial ranged from −2.4 to 1.0% (5.1 to 6.9%) and for the tights trial was −0.8 to 0.6% (7.0 to 9.5%). For TSI, the CV during the control trial ranged from 1.7 to 4.0% for the gastrocnemius and 1.9 to 2.6% for the vastus lateralis. During the tights trials, the CV ranged from 3.0 to 4.5% for the gastrocnemius and 2.6 to 3.5% for the vastus lateralis. The CV for muscle oxygenation during the control and tights trials for the gastrocnemius was 2.7 to 6.2% and 1.0 to 8.8% and for the vastus lateralis was 0.6 to 4.0% and 4.0 to 4.5%, respectively. The relative reliability was poorer in the tights trials, but if the aim was to detect a 5% difference in TSI, NIRS would be sufficiently reliable. However, the reliability of muscle oxygenation and deoxygenation varies considerably with activity type, and this should be considered when determining whether to employ NIRS in research studies.