Considering the development of rock climbing as a competitive sport, we aimed at investigating the influence of four recovery methods on subsequent maximal climbing performance.
In a randomly assigned crossover design, 13 female well-trained climbers (27.1 ± 8.9 yr) came to the climbing center on four occasions separated by 1 wk. On each occasion, they had to perform two climbing tests (C1 and C2) until volitional exhaustion on a prepracticed route (overhanging wall, level 6b). These two tests were separated by 20 min of recovery. Four recovery methods were used in randomized order: passive recovery, active recovery (cycle ergometer, 30-40 W), electromyostimulation on the forearm muscles (bisymmetric TENS current), or cold water immersion of the forearms and arms (three periods of 5 min at 15 ± 1°C). Climbing tests' performance was reflected by the number of arm movements and climb duration.
Using active recovery and cold water immersion, performance at C2 was maintained in comparison with C1, whereas C2 performance was impaired compared with C1 (P< 0.01) using electromyostimulation and passive recovery (recovery method-by-climb interaction, P < 0.05). Blood lactate decreased during recovery, with the greatest decrease occurring during active recovery (time-by-recovery method interaction, P < 0.001). Arms and forearms' skin temperatures were lower throughout the cold water immersion compared with the other three methods (P < 0.001).
Active recovery and cold water immersion are two means of preserving performance when repeating acute exhausting climbing trails in female climbers. These positive effects are accompanied by a greater lactate removal and a decrease in subcutaneous tissues temperatures, respectively.
1Laboratory of Human Movement Studies, EA3608, Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, Lille 2 University, FRANCE; and 2Department of Human Physiology and Sports Medicine, Faculty of Physical Education and Physical Therapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, BELGIUM
Address for correspondence: Romain Meeusen, Ph.D., Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit LK dept. Human Physiology & Sports Medicine, Pleinlaan 2B-1050 Brussels, Belgium; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted for publication May 2008.
Accepted for publication September 2008.