Optimizing the Ergogenic Use of Ischemic Preconditioning
The overall purpose of this thesis was to develop the understating of how to best exploit the effects of Ischemic Preconditioning (IPC) on exercise performance, facilitating optimal application in athletics. To address this purpose, three specific research aims were implemented, and four independent studies were conducted. Study 1 & 2 aimed to investigate new variations of IPC administration to enhance the IPC stimulus and augment the ergogenic effect. It was found that enhancing the IPC stimulus, by amplifying the metabolic stimulus (study 1), or by combining the early and late IPC windows (study 2), does not augment the ergogenic effect of traditional IPC. However, an amplified metabolic stimulus may be beneficial for those who do not respond to traditional IPC. Study 3 aimed to examine the role of perception modulation as a mechanism responsible for the ergogenic effect of IPC. This was completed by investigating whether IPC could reduce sensitivity to a cold-water pain, and if the degree of pain reduction would relate to an individual’s improvement in exercise performance following exposure to IPC. These data revealed that IPC can reduce cold-water pain sensitivity; however, the magnitude and direction of changes were not related to IPC-mediated improvements in performance, suggesting reductions in pain sensitivity do not explain an individual’s ergogenic response following IPC. Study 4 aimed to evaluate the use of IPC as a tool that can be practically applied within traditional athletic training. It was determined that highly trained athletes undergoing consistent and repeated IPC treatment within their competitive training environment did not improve performance to a greater extent over time. This finding challenges the ecological validity of employing IPC as a supplemental ergogenic training strategy. Overall, these findings provide novel understanding into the optimal IPC methodology for evoking the ergogenic effect, mechanisms responsible for the IPC effect, and the feasibility of IPC within a competitive setting. These insights are important for optimizing IPC as an ergogenic strategy.