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Enhanced muscle blood flow with intermittent pneumatic compression of the lower leg during plantar flexion exercise and recovery.

  • Zuj, Kathryn A1
  • Prince, Chekema N1
  • Hughson, Richard L1
  • Peterson, Sean D1
  • 1 1 University of Waterloo.
Published Article
Journal of Applied Physiology
American Physiological Society
Publication Date
Nov 09, 2017
DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00784.2017
PMID: 29122964


This study tested the hypothesis that intermittent compression of the lower limb would increase blood flow during exercise and post-exercise recovery. Data were collected from 12 healthy individuals (8 men) who performed three minutes of standing plantar flexion exercise. Three conditions were tested: no applied compression (NoComp), compression during the exercise period only (ExComp), and compression during two minutes of standing post-exercise recovery (RecComp). Doppler ultrasound was used to determine superficial femoral artery (SFA) blood flow responses. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) and cardiac stroke volume (SV) were assessed using finger photoplethysmography, with vascular conductance (VC) calculated as VC = SFA flow / MAP. Compared to the NoComp condition, compression resulted in increased MAP during exercise (+3.5 ± 4.1 mmHg, mean ± SD), but not during post-exercise recovery (+1.6 ± 5.9 mmHg). SV increased with compression during both exercise (+4.8 ± 5.1 mL) and recovery (+8.0 ± 6.6 mL) compared to NoComp. There was a greater increase in SFA flow with compression during exercise (+52.1 ± 57.2 mL/min) and during recovery (+58.6 ± 56.7 mL/min). VC immediately following exercise was also significantly greater in the ExComp condition compared to the NoComp condition (+0.57 ± 0.42 mL/min/mmHg) suggesting the observed increase in blood flow during exercise was in part due to changes in VC. Results from this study support the hypothesis that intermittent compression applied during exercise and recovery from exercise results in increased limb blood flow, potentially contributing to changes in exercise performance and recovery.

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