Using Blood Pressure Cuffs to Enhance Sports Performance

51/365 (sphygmomanometer) by jasleen_kaur,

Over at Wired Playbook, I have a new article highlighting a sports performance-enhancing technique where blood flow is temporarily reduced to a limb, in order to prime the muscle for future stress during exercise:

The study builds off research first conducted in the 1980s by cardiovascular pioneer Keith Reimer that examined infarcts, areas of dead cardiac tissue that resulted after heart attacks, when blood flow (and, hence, oxygen) were cut off for extended periods of time. Reimer and his colleagues discovered that much less heart muscle deteriorated when the tissue had previously experienced a few training sessions where blood flow was slightly reduced.

It was as if practice makes perfect, and the previous bouts of low blood flow, which researchers refer to as ischemic preconditioning, primed the heart muscle to endure more serious, even catastrophic, events. When a life-threatening heart attack transpired, instead of shriveling away, the preconditioned heart muscle seemed to stand strong.

Read the full story here.

Photo via Flickr / jasleen_kaur

Jean-St-Michel E, Manlhiot C, Li J, Tropak M, Michelsen MM, Schmidt MR, McCrindle BW, Wells GD, & Redington AN (2010). Remote Preconditioning Improves Maximal Performance in Highly-Trained Athletes. Medicine and science in sports and exercise PMID: 21131871