Ischemic preconditioning (IPC) has been used to protect myocardial cells against ischemiareperfusion
injury and is recently utilized for improving exercise performance. It is unknown whether remote IPC (RIPC)
to tissues not involved in exercise can induce similar exercise improvements and what “dose” of IPC is necessary to
induce exercise performance benefits. This study determined if unilateral and bilateral upper limb RIPC improves lower
body anaerobic power output.
Using two randomized, sham-controlled, crossover study designs, we studied 43 recreationally-active adults.
For study 1, unilateral RIPC was used, while for study 2, the ischemic stimuli was increased to bilateral occlusion. After
either the RIPC or sham control treatment, subjects completed four 30 s Wingate anaerobic tests on a Monark cycle
ergometer with 2 min passive rest between trials.
In the unilateral occlusion trial, peak power, mean power, and fatigue index were not different between the two
conditions at every Wingate test. In the bilateral occlusion trial, mean power was greater in the RIPC condition during the
first Wingate test compared with the sham control (bothp<0.05). Additionally, peak power was elevated following the
RIPC condition versus the sham control for the final Wingate test (p<0.05).
Remote ischemic preconditioning applied bilaterally increased lower body power output over a series of
Wingate anaerobic tests. Unilateral RIPC, however, had no effect on any of the performance variables, suggesting that
there is a threshold for the amount of target tissues needed to elicit anaerobic performance benefits.