Muscle, tendon, and somatotropin responses to the restriction of muscle blood flow induced by KAATSU-walk training

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Abstract

Objective:

The efficacy of KAATSU training has been demonstrated in human athletes, both as a therapeutic method as well as a training aid. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of slow walk training combined with restriction of muscle blood flow (KAATSU) on muscle and tendon size.

Methods:

Six healthy, unfit Standardbred mares performed walking (240 m/min for 10 min and then 5 min recovery) with KAATSU, and 6 mares performed walking without KAATSU. A specially designed elastic cuff1was placed at the most proximal position of the forelegs and inflated to a pressure of 200-230 mmHg throughout the walking and recovery sessions. The training was conducted once a day, 6 days/week for 2 weeks. Skeletal muscle thickness and tendon thickness were measured using B-mode ultrasound at baseline and after 2 weeks of training. Venous blood samples were obtained before the first acute exercise and 5, 15 and 60 min afterwards. Serum somatotropin concentration was determined using a commercially available equine-specific ELISA kit.

Results:

The acute increase in plasma somatotropin was 40% greater (P<0.05) in the KAATSU-walk group than in the Control-walk group 5 min after exercise and remained elevated (P<0.05) at 15 and 60 min post exercise compared with the Control-walk group. After 2 weeks of training, muscle thickness increased (P<0.05) 3.5% in the KAATSU-walk group but did not change in the Control-walk group (0.7%). Tendon thickness did not change (P>0.05) in either group.

Conclusions:

These data demonstrate that KAATSU training can induce muscle hypertrophy in horses and suggest that KAATSU training may provide significant therapeutic/rehabilitative value in horses, as has been shown in man.

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