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The present pilot study tested the exercise response to transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TNS) of 21 volunteers, who were well-trained competitive athletes. In 62 experiments (n) they received low-frequency TNS (2 Hz) for 30-45 min prior to either a road or track race, swimming race, bicycle ergometer exercise, isometric muscular endurance test, or dynamometer hand grip test. Improvement in performance compared with a corresponding number of control tests, without TNS or with placebo stimulation in the same subjects, was almost regularly observed in running, swimming and ergometer cycling, although with great individual variations. The average improvement was 4.3 sec (2.2 %) in 1.000 m road racing (n = 9); 2.3 sec (1.8 %) in 800 m track racing (n = 5); 0.9 sec (1.4 %) in 100 m swimming (n = 12); 1.3 sec (0.8 %) in 200 m swimming (n = 6); and 2.5 sec (0.9 %) in 400 m swimming (n = 3). In a bicycle ergometer test with stepwise, progressive exercise to muscular fatigue, the maximal capacity was increased by 9 % (n = 4). Local isometric muscle endurance of the elbow flexors (n = 7) and hand grip strengths (n = 11) were not significantly altered. Possible mechanisms involved in the response to TNS are discussed.
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Keywords: Exertion; Nerve stimulation; Sports; Work; transcutaneous

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory of Clinical Neurophysiology, Rogaland Central Hospital, 4000 Stavanger, Norway

Publication date: January 1, 1984

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