Effect of heat pre-conditioning on recovery following exercise-induced muscle damage


This study investigated the influence of heat pre-conditioning on the recovery of muscle torque, microvascular function, movement economy and stride mechanics following exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). Twenty male participants were equally assigned to a control (CON) and an experimental group (HEAT), and performed a 30-min downhill run (DHR) to elicit EIMD. HEAT group received three consecutive days of heat exposure (45.1 ± 3.2 min of hot water immersion at 42°C) prior to DHR. Microvascular function (near-infrared spectroscopy), maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque of the knee extensors, as well as two treadmill-based steady-state runs performed below (SSR-1) and above (SSR-2) the first ventilatory threshold) were assessed prior to DHR and repeated for four consecutive days post-DHR (D1-POST to D4-POST). The decline in MVC torque following EIMD was attenuated in HEAT compared with CON at D1-POST (p = 0.037), D3-POST (p = 0.002) and D4-POST (p = 0.022). Muscle soreness increased in both CON and HEAT, but was significantly attenuated in HEAT compared with CON at D2-POST (p = 0.024) and D3-POST (p = 0.013). Microvascular function decreased in CON from D1-POST to D3-POST (p = 0.009 to 0.018), and was lower compared with HEAT throughout D1-POST to D3-POST (p = 0.003 to 0.017). Pre-heat treatment decreased the magnitude of strength loss and muscle soreness, as well as attenuated the decline in microvascular function following EIMD. Heat treatment appears a promising pre-conditioning strategy when embarking on intensified training periods or competition.

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