Effect of Local Upper Arm Cooling on the Endurance Capacity During Cycling

Clijsen, Ron and Taeymans, Jan and Rüedi, Christoph and Cabri, Jan (2008) Effect of Local Upper Arm Cooling on the Endurance Capacity During Cycling. In: 13th Congress of the European College of Sport sciences, July 2008, Estoril, Portugal.

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Introduction: Effects of local cryotherapy (cold therapy) applications on the skin are usually studied in the context of rehabilitation. Consideration can be given to other uses, particularly in endurance sports (Verducci, 2000). Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of local cooling of the upper arm on the endurance capacity. Methods: Seven female and two male young healthy subjects (n=9) volunteered in this study. A random, cross-over design was used. Energicer bands (Liquid Ice Cosmedicals GmbH, Unterägeri, Switzerland) were used for local cooling of the left and right upper arm. The two bands (7.5 x 5 x 0.5 cm) were saturated (33.2 g) with a menthol-alcohol liquid. A standardized incremental bike ergometer test was conducted following the Swiss Olympic guidelines. All participants used the same protocol. Time to exhaustion was determined and used as the independent variable for endurance capacity. At the end of each incremental step following variables were measured: blood lactate, heart rate, body temperature en perceived exhaustion (Borg scale). The two experiments were conducted within 48 hours. Environmental temperature (23°C) and relative humidity (40%) of the lab were kept constant. A Wilcoxon test for matched pairs was used for statistical analysis. Significance was set at the 5% level. Results: Mean age and BMI of the subjects were 24.4 y and 20.6 kg.m-2 respectively. Median time to exhaustion without and with local upper arm cooling was 1117 s and 1086 s respectively (p > .05). No significant differences were observed for the other variables under investigation between the two conditions. Discussion: During exhaustive exercise body temperature increases. Hence, the body must adjust rapidly by increasing heat loss through evaporation, radiation and conduction in order to ensure body homeostasis and to avoid a strong decrease of endurance capacity. The Energicer bands, saturated with a cooling liquid based on alcohol, are said to enhance evaporation. However, under our test conditions, no significant changes in body temperature nore endurance capacity could be observed if cooling bands were used. Conclusion: Under comfortable environmental conditions local cooling of the upper arms by Energicer bands do not enhance endurance capacity during cycling. Further studies are needed to analyse the effect of Energicer bands in hot environmental conditions or with cooling of larger skin surfaces. References: Verducci FM, Journal of Athletic Training, 2000;35(4):422-426

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