Forearm muscle oxidative capacity index predicts sport rock-climbing performance


Abstract: Rock-climbing performance is largely dependent on the endurance of the forearm flexors. Recently, it was reported that forearm flexor endurance in elite climbers is independent of the ability to regulate conduit artery (brachial) blood flow, suggesting that endurance is not primarily dependent on the ability of the brachial artery to deliver oxygen, but rather the ability of the muscle to perfuse and use oxygen, i.e., skeletal muscle oxidative capacity. Purpose: The aim of the study was to determine whether an index of oxidative capacity in the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) predicts the best sport climbing red-point grade within the last 6 months. Participants consisted of 46 sport climbers with a range of abilities. Methods: Using near-infrared spectroscopy, the oxidative capacity index of the FDP was assessed by calculating the half-time for tissue oxygen resaturation (O2HTR) following 3–5 min of ischemia. Results: Linear regression, adjusted for age, sex, BMI, and training experience, revealed a 1-s decrease in O2HTR was associated with an increase in red-point grade by 0.65 (95 % CI 0.35–0.94, Adj R2 = 0.53). Conclusions: Considering a grade of 0.4 separated the top four competitors in the 2015 International Federation Sport Climbing World Cup, this finding suggests that forearm flexor oxidative capacity index is an important determinant of rock-climbing performance.

European Journal of Applied Physiology