Repeated cycles of vascular occlusion followed by reperfusion initiate a protective mechanism that acts to mitigate future cell injury. Such ischemic episodes are known to improve vasodilation, oxygen utilization, muscle function, and have been demonstrated to enhance exercise performance. Thus, the use of occlusion cuffs represents a novel intervention that may improve subsequent exercise performance. Fourteen participants performed an exercise protocol that involved lower-body strength and power tests followed by repeated sprints. Occlusion cuffs were then applied unilaterally (2 × 3-min per leg) with a pressure of either 220 (intervention) or 15 mm Hg (control). Participants immediately repeated the exercise protocol, and then again 24 h later. The intervention elicited delayed beneficial effects (24 h post-intervention) in the countermovement jump test with concentric (effect size (ES) = 0.36) and eccentric (ES = 0.26) velocity recovering more rapidly compared with the control. There were also small beneficial effects on 10- and 40-m sprint times. In the squat jump test there were delayed beneficial effects of occlusion on eccentric power (ES = 1.38), acceleration (ES = 1.24), and an immediate positive effect on jump height (ES = 0.61). Thus, specific beneficial effects on recovery of power production and sprint performance were observed both immediately and 24 h after intermittent unilateral occlusion was applied to each leg.
Beaven, C. M., Cook, C. J., Kilduff, L. P., Drawer, S., & Gill, N. (2012). Intermittent lower-limb occlusion enhances recovery after strenuous exercise. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 37(6), 1132-1139. https://doi.org/10.1139/H2012-101