Purpose: A novel technique of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) via the peroneal nerve has been shown to augment limb blood flow which could enhance recovery following exercise. The present study examined the effects of NMES, compared to graduated compression socks on muscle soreness, strength, and markers of muscle damage and inflammation following intense intermittent exercise.
Methods: Twenty-one (age 21 ± 1 years, height 179 ± 7 cm, body mass 76 ± 9 kg,) healthy males performed a 90-min intermittent shuttle running test on three occasions. Following exercise, the following interventions were applied: passive recovery (CON), graduated compression socks (GCS) or NMES. Perceived muscle soreness (PMS) and muscle strength (isometric maximal voluntary contraction of knee extensors and flexors) were measured and a venous blood sample taken pre-exercise and 0, 1, 24, 48 and 72 h following exercise for measurement of creatine kinase (CK) and Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity and IL-6 and CRP concentrations.
Results: PMS increased in all conditions immediately, 1 and 24 h post-exercise. At 24 h PMS was lower in NMES compared to GCS and CON (2.0 ± 1.6, 3.2 ± 2.1, 4.6 ± 2.0, respectively). At 48 h PMS was lower in NMES compared to CON (1.3 ± 1.5 and 3.1 ± 1.8, respectively). There were no differences between treatments for muscle strength, CK and LDH activity, IL-6 and CRP concentrations.
Conclusions: The novel NMES technique is superior to GCS in reducing PMS following intense intermittent endurance exercise.