The use of portable NIRS to measure muscle oxygenation and haemodynamics during a repeated sprint running test


Portable near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) devices were originally developed for use in exercise and sports science by Britton Chance in the 1990s (the RunMan and microRunman series). However, only recently with the development of more robust, and wireless systems, has the routine use in elite sport become possible. As with the medical use of NIRS, finding applications of the technology that are relevant to practitioners is the key issue. One option is to use NIRS to track exercise training-induced adaptations in muscle. Portable NIRS devices enable monitoring during the normal ‘field’ routine uses to assess fitness, such as repeat sprint shuttle tests. Knowledge about the acute physiological responses to these specific tests has practical applications within team sport training prescription, where development of both central and peripheral determinants of high-intensity intermittent exercise needs to be considered. The purpose of this study was to observe NIRS-detected parameters during a repeat sprint test. We used the PortaMon, a two wavelength spatially resolved NIR spectrometer manufactured by Artinis Inc., to assess NIR changes in the gastrocnemius muscle of both the left and right leg during high-intensity running. Six university standard rugby players were assessed (age 20 ± 1.5 years; height 183 ± 1.0 cm; weight 89.4 ± 5.8 kg; body fat 12.2 ± 3.0 %); the subjects completed nine repeated shuttle runs, which incorporated forward, backward and change of direction movements. Individual sprint time, total time to complete test, blood lactate response (BL), heart rate values (HR) and haemoglobin variables ($Δ$HHb, $Δ$tHb, $Δ$HbO2 and $Δ$TSI%) were measured. Total time to complete the test was 260 ± 20 s, final blood lactate was 14.3 ± 2.8 mM, and maximal HR 182 ± 5 bpm. NIRS variables displayed no differences between right and left legs. During the test, the group-averaged data showed a clear decrease in HbO2 (max. decrease 11.41 ± 4.95 $μ$M), increase in HHb (max. increase 17.65 ± 4.48 $μ$M) and drop in %TSI (max. drop-24.44 ± 4.63 %). tHb was largely unchanged. However, large interindividual differences were seen for all the NIRS parameters. In conclusion, this observational study suggests that a portable NIRS device is both robust and sensitive enough to detect haemoglobin changes during a high-intensity repeated shuttle run test. It therefore has the possibility to be used to assess exercise training-induced adaptations following a specific training protocol. However, it is at present unclear, given the individual variability, whether NIRS can be used to assess individual performance. We recommend that future studies report individual as well as group data. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology