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Related Trends in Locomotor and Respiratory Muscle Oxygenation during Exercise


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 1 - p 91-100
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000241638.90348.67
BASIC SCIENCES: Original Investigations

Purpose: We investigated the potential effect of respiratory muscle work on leg muscle oxygenation without artificial intervention in non-endurance-trained young subjects and searched for the range of intensity when this effect could occur.

Methods: We simultaneously monitored accessory respiratory and leg muscle oxygenation patterns with near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) in 15 healthy young men performing maximal incremental exercise on a cycle ergometer. Pulmonary gas exchange was measured. The respiratory compensation point (RCP) was determined. Oxygenation (RMO2) and blood volume (RMBV) of the serratus anterior (accessory respiratory muscle) and of the vastus lateralis (LegO2 and LegBV) were monitored with NIRS. The breakdown point of accessory respiratory muscle oxygenation (BPRMO2) and the accelerated (BP1LegO2) and attenuated fall (BP2LegO2) in leg muscle oxygenation were detected.

Results: BPRMO2 occurred at approximately 85% V˙O2max and was related to RCP (r = 0.88, P < 0.001). BP2LegO2 appeared at approximately 83% V˙O2max and was related to RCP (r = 0.57, P < 0.05) and with BPRMO2 (r = 0.64, P = 0.01). From BP2LegO2 to maximal exercise, LegBV was significantly reduced (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: In active subjects exercising at heavy exercise intensities, we observed that the appearance of the accelerated drop in accessory respiratory muscle oxygenation-associated with high ventilatory level-was related with the attenuated fall in leg muscle oxygenation detected with near-infrared spectroscopy. This suggests that the high oxygen requirement of respiratory muscle leads to limited oxygen use by locomotor muscles as demonstrated in endurance-trained subjects. The phenomenon observed was associated with reduced leg blood volume, supporting the occurrence of leg vasoconstriction. These events appeared not only at maximal exercise but onward above the respiratory compensation point.

1Laboratory of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Sports Sciences and Physical Education, Lille University, Lille, FRANCE; and 2Laboratory of Multidisciplinary Analysis of Physical Activity, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Artois, Liévin, FRANCE

Address for correspondence: Patrick Mucci, Ph.D., University of Lille, Faculty of Sports Sciences and Physical Education, 9 rue de l'Université, 59790 Ronchin, France; E-mail:

Submitted for publication November 2005.

Accepted for publication August 2006.

©2007The American College of Sports Medicine