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  • Active Voice: A Novel Strategy for Promoting Recovery of Muscular Strength after Strenuous Exercise in Competitive Athletes

    by Guest Blogger | Apr 13, 2015
    By Kazushige Goto, Ph.D.


    As athletes commonly perform intensive physical training or compete on consecutive days, rapid recovery of exercise capacity is important to maximize competitive success and to prevent excessive fatigue. The wearing of compression garments (CG) after exercise promotes recovery of muscular strength and attenuates exercise-induced muscle damage. I established research projects with Takuma Morishima, M.Sc., to demonstrate the effects of CG during exercise or the post-exercise period.

    In our latest paper published in MSSE, we explored the effects of wearing a CG for 24 hours on the detailed time course of changes in muscular strength, muscle damage and inflammatory responses after strenuous resistance exercise. Nine recreationally trained males completed two exercise trials, wearing either a CG or a normal garment (CON) for 24 hours after exercise.

    We clearly showed that wearing a CG after resistance exercise promoted recovery of upper body and lower limb muscular strength. In particular, upper body strength improved within 3 to 8 hours after exercise, while significantly greater recovery of lower limb muscular strength was evident within 24 hours after exercise. Muscle soreness also was reduced by wearing the CG during the post-exercise period.

    The good news is that it is very easy to simply wear a CG; this renders the popular recovery procedures (massage, active recovery and water immersion) unnecessary. In terms of the mechanism involved, the CG is hypothesized to attenuate exercise-induced muscle damage and swelling by applying pressure to the exercised muscles. As our experimental subjects wore CG during the post-exercise period only, it appears that the CG protected against secondary muscle damage, which causes delayed-onset muscle soreness. Although we did not detect marked between-group differences in biomarkers of exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammatory responses (e.g., myoglobin, interleukin-6), further examination of blood flow and/or intramuscular metabolism in future studies may allow us to elucidate the detailed mechanism behind the observed effect.

    From a practical viewpoint, two research questions arise. First, is wearing a CG between multiple training sessions over a single day helpful in terms of recovery? Second, is use of a CG beneficial during recovery from endurance exercise? In our latest experiments, two graduate students (Ayaka Mori, M.Sc., and Sahiro Mizuno) have explored these two questions, and original research articles are being developed that will report those answers.

    The idea of using a CG to aid recovery came from the observation that a CG is commonly employed in clinical settings to treat chronic inflammatory disorders or peripheral swelling in patients with vascular disease. Our novel research in sports science indicates that wearing a CG during post-exercise periods facilitates the recovery of athletes who engage in strenuous training several times a day, or on consecutive days.

    Viewpoints presented on the ACSM blog reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

    Kazushige Goto, Ph.D., received his Ph.D. degree in 2004 from the University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan. He followed this with a four-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tsukuba, Tokyo University (Japan), which included collaborations with the Bispebjerg Hospital in the Capital Region of Denmark. He began his academic career at the Waseda University in Saitama, moving to the Ritsumeikan University in Shiga in 2010, where he accepted his current appointment as an associate professor. His research interests include exercise-induced endocrine and metabolic changes, post-exercise recovery strategies and the effects of exercise training in hypoxia.

    This commentary presents Dr. Goto’s views on the topic of a research article which he and one of his colleagues published in the December 2014 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® (MSSE).

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