Blood lactate and ventilatory thresholds in wheelchair athletes with tetraplegia and paraplegia

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to analyse the influence of spinal cord injury level on blood lactate (BLa) and ventilatory thresholds. Methods: Ten athletes with tetraplegia (TETRA) and nine athletes with paraplegia (PARA) performed a graded wheelchair propulsion treadmill exercise step test to exhaustion. The aerobic and anaerobic BLa thresholds, the ventilatory threshold and the respiratory compensation point (RCP) were determined. Results: The BLa thresholds were determined in 34 of 38 cases, ventilatory thresholds and RCPs in 31 of 38 cases. The anaerobic BLa threshold (76 ± 7 % V ̇ O 2 peak) and the RCP (77 ± 8 % V ̇ O 2 peak) did not differ significantly from each other (P = 0.92), with a coefficient of variation of 4.8 ± 3.4 % between thresholds. All other thresholds differed significantly from each other (P < 0.05). Thresholds expressed as the percentage of peak oxygen uptake did not differ between TETRA and PARA (P > 0.05) despite altered breathing in TETRA, which included a higher ventilatory equivalent for oxygen and a lower tidal volume. Conclusion: Measuring BLa leads to a higher threshold determination rate compared with ventilatory data and the anaerobic BLa threshold can be used to predict the RCP. The altered breathing in TETRA does not seem to have a pronounced effect on the ventilatory threshold or the RCP. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.