Assessment of Microvascular Hemodynamic Adaptations in Finger Flexors of Climbers


Climbing performance is greatly dependent on the endurance of the finger flexors which, in turn, depends on the ability to deliver and use oxygen within the muscle. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) have provided new possibilities to explore these phenomena in the microvascular environment. The aim of the present study was to explore climbing-related microvascular adaptations through the comparison of the oxygen concentration and hemodynamics of the forearm between climbers and non-climber active individuals during a vascular occlusion test (VOT). Seventeen climbers and fifteen non-climbers joined the study. Through NIRS and DCS, the oxyhemoglobin (O2Hb) and deoxyhemoglobin (HHb) concentrations, tissue saturation index (TSI), and blood flow index (BFI) were obtained from the flexor digitorum profundus during the VOT. During the reactive hyperemia, climbers presented greater blood flow slopes (p = 0.043, d = 0.573), as well as greater O2Hb maximum values (p = 0.001, d = 1.263) and HHb minimum values (p = 0.009, d = 0.998), than non-climbers. The superior hemodynamics presented by climbers could indicate potential training-induced structural and functional adaptations that could enhance oxygen transportation to the muscle, and thus enhance muscle endurance and climbing performance.