Post-warm-up muscle temperature maintenance: blood flow contribution and external heating optimisation

Purpose: Passive muscle heating has been shown to reduce the drop in post-warm-up muscle temperature (Tm) by about 25 % over 30 min, with concomitant sprint/power performance improvements. We sought to determine the role of leg blood flow in this cooling and whether optimising the heating procedure would further benefit post-warm-up Tm maintenance. Methods: Ten male cyclists completed 15-min sprint-based warm-up followed by 30 min recovery. Vastus lateralisTm (Tmvl) was measured at deep-, mid- and superficial-depths before and after the warm-up, and after the recovery period (POST-REC). During the recovery period, participants wore water-perfused trousers heated to 43 °C (WPT43) with either whole leg heating (WHOLE) or upper leg heating (UPPER), which was compared to heating with electrically heated trousers at 40 °C (ELEC40) and a non-heated control (CON). The blood flow cooling effect on Tmvl was studied comparing one leg with (BF) and without (NBF) blood flow. Results: Warm-up exercise significantly increased Tmvl by ~3 °C at all depths. After the recovery period, BF Tmvl was lower (~0.3 °C) than NBF Tmvl at all measured depths, with no difference between WHOLE versus UPPER. WPT43 reduced the post-warm-up drop in deep-Tmvl (−0.12 °C ± 0.3 °C) compared to ELEC40 (−1.08 ± 0.4 °C) and CON (−1.3 ± 0.3 °C), whereas mid- and superficial-Tmvl even increased by 0.15 ± 0.3 and 1.1 ± 1.1 °C, respectively. Conclusion: Thigh blood flow contributes to the post-warm-up Tmvl decline. Optimising the external heating procedure and increasing heating temperature of only 3 °C successfully maintained and even increased Tmvl, demonstrating that heating temperature is the major determinant of post-warm-up Tmvl cooling in this application.