Ischemic Preconditioning on Maximal Swimming Performance

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Ischemic Preconditioning on Maximal Swimming Performance Abstract

The effect of ischemic preconditioning (IPC) on swimming performance was examined. Using a randomized, crossover design, National-and International-level swimmers (n=20; 14 males, 6 females) participated in three trials (Con, IPC-2h, IPC-24h). Lower-body IPC (4 x 5 min bi-lateral blood-flow restriction at 160-228 mmHg, and 5 min reperfusion) was used 2- (IPC-2h) or 24-h (IPC-24h) before a self-selected (100 m, n=15; 200 m, n=5) swimming time-trial (TT). The Con trial used a sham intervention (15 mmHg) 2h prior to exercise. All trials required a 40-min standardized pre-competition swimming warm-up (followed by 20-min rest; replicating pre-competition call room procedures) 1h before TT. Capillary blood (pH, blood gases and lactate concentrations) was taken immediately pre-and post-IPC, pre-TT and post-TT. No effects on TT for 100 m (P=0.995; IPC-2h: 64.94±8.33 s; IPC-24h: 64.67±8.50 s; Con: 64.94± 8.24 s), 200 m (P=0.405; IPC-2h: 127.70±10.66 s; IPC-24h: 129.26±12.99 s; Con: 130.19±10.27 s) or combined total time (IPC-2h: 84.27±31.52 s; IPC-24h: 79.87±29.72 s; Con: 80.55±31.35 s) were observed following IPC. Base excess (IPC-2h: -13.37±8.90 mmol⋅L; Con: -13.35±7.07 mmol⋅L; IPC-24h: -16.53±4.65 mmol⋅L), pH (0.22±0.08; all conditions), bicarbonate (IPC-2h: -11.66±3.52 mmol⋅L; Con: -11.62±5.59 mmol⋅L; IPC-24h: -8.47±9.02 mmol⋅L), total carbon dioxide (IPC-2h: -12.90±3.92 mmol⋅L; Con: -11.55±7.61 mmol⋅L; IPC-24h: 9.90±8.40 mmol⋅L), percentage oxygen saturation (IPC-2h: -0.16±1.86%; Con: +0.20±1.93%; IPC-24h: +0.47±2.10%) and blood lactate (IPC-2h: +12.87±3.62 mmol⋅L; Con: +12.41±4.02 mmol⋅L; IPC-24h: +13.27±3.81 mmol⋅L) were influenced by swimming TT (P<0.001), but not condition (all P>0.05). No effect of IPC was seen when applied 2- or 24-h before swimming TT on any indices of performance or physiological measures recorded.

Practical Implication on Ischemic Preconditioning on Maximal Swimming Performance

Ischemic preconditioning doesn't appear to improve performance after a few hours in these elite swimmers in 100 and 200-m swimming time trials. This opposes a recent improvement noted in 50-m time trials 2-8 hours after IPC. 

Clearly, more research is needed on this subject, but IPC doesn't appear beneficial in elite swimmers for 100- and 200-m time trials. 


  1. Felipe D. Lisbôaa, Tiago Turnes, Rogério S.O. Cruz, João A.G. Raimundoa,
    Gustavo S. Pereira, Fabrizio Caputoa. The time dependence of the effect of ischemic preconditioning on successive sprint swimming performance. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 20 (2017) 507–511.
  2. Williams N, Russell M, Cook CJ, Kilduff LP. The Effect of Ischemic Preconditioning on Maximal Swimming Performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Jan 30. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002485. [Epub ahead of print]

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