Another Study in Support of Ischemic Preconditioning - Or Blood Flow Reduction For Increased Running Performance
Earlier in August, I posted about a study that involved ischemic preconditioning on lactate accumulation and running performance. The study found that the runners receiving ischemic preconditioning (ICP) improved their 5k times by 34 seconds, which is a large margin of improvement. The study found that by repeatedly cutting off the blood to the legs, and then allowing them
to recover, the leg muscles were better able to deal with the final
lactate accumulation that took place during a 5k. In essence, the leg
muscles became temporarily more efficient at processing oxygen and in
putting off lactate accumulation, something every runner can benefit
from. Now a new study has just been published that corroborates this earlier study and lends more support to ICP. Entitled "Remote ischemic preconditioning prevents reduction in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation after strenuous exercise" this study examined how ICP may prevent a reduction in blood flow in the brachial artery. The brachial artery is the major blood vessel of the upper arm. Yes, the upper arm. So, in essence this study looked at whether ischemic preconditioning (cutting blood off and then allowing the muscles and arteries to recover in a repeated fashion) in the lower limbs would have a beneficial affect on the blood vessels in other parts of the body. The authors found that yes, ICP of the lower limbs has a beneficial impact on blood vessels in other parts of the body, in this case the brachial artery of the upper arm. Just like in the other study, which found that ICP can help with lactate accumulation, this study lends support to the idea of looking at the body as an ecosystem, not as individual parts, organs, or regions. By showing that ICP of the lower limbs can keep the blood vessels in other parts of the body at a pre-exercise endothelial functioning (the balance between vasodilation and vasoconstriction), then the reverse is also likely true. By this I am implying that the health of the upper body will have a direct affect on the lower body, and as this study shows, vice versa. Perhaps this is why many nordic skiers are such good runners, and have such high VO2max's. Because they condition their upper body when nordic skiing (without adding much potentially detrimental weight), this "fitness" also has beneficial affects on their lactate accumulation, endurance abilities, and running performances. Everyone knows Kilian Jornet ski races in the winter and rarely runs during that time. Maybe beyond just keeping him in amazing shape during the winter, ski racing also helps directly with running during the summer.
The science does not go that far, but it is interesting to think about. I picked up nordic skis for this winter and will apply some of this conjecturing to myself and see what happens.