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Active Recovery Strategies and Handgrip Performance in Trained Vs. Untrained Climbers

Green, Jackson G1,2; Stannard, Stephen R1,2

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - pp 494-501
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c06af3
Original Research

Green, JG and Stannard, SR. Active recovery strategies and handgrip performance in trained vs. untrained climbers. J Strength Cond Res 24(2): 494-501, 2010-Isometric contractions, such as occurring during rock climbing, occlude blood flow to the active musculature. The ability to maximize forearm blood flow between such contractions is a likely determinant of intermittent handgrip performance. This study aimed to test the hypothesis that intermittent isometric handgrip performance is improved by 2 common active recovery strategies suggested to increase muscle blood flow. On 6 separate occasions, 9 trained indoor rock climbers and 9 untrained participants undertook a fatiguing, intermittent, isometric handgrip exercise bout consisting of sets of 6 contractions (approximately 33% of maximal voluntary contraction [MVC] force), each 3-second long separated by a 1-second rest. Between sets, participants were allowed 9-second recovery performing passive rest, “shaking out” (vigorously shaking the hand), or grasping a handgrip vibration machine, each with or without forearm occlusion. Performance was assessed by pre- and post-exercise MVC trials and a 20-contraction post-exercise handgrip time trial (TT20). Trained climbers exhibited significantly greater handgrip MVC force and intermittent exercise capacity than untrained (p < 0.01). There was no effect of recovery strategy on any measure (p > 0.05). Trained climbers were more affected by occlusion than untrained in MVC (p < 0.05) and TT20 (p < 0.01). Shaking out and low-frequency vibration are unlikely to affect rock climbing performance. It is recommended that rock climbers and their coaches focus on optimizing body position rather than compromising body position to allow for shaking out.

1Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health; and 2Human Performance Laboratory, Massey University, Palmerston, New Zealand

Address correspondence to Jackson G. Green, j.green@massey.ac.nz.

© 2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association