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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2003 March;43(1):1-13

Copyright © 2009 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

The use of near infrared spectroscopy in sports medicine

Quaresima V., Lepanto R., Ferrari M.

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Technologies University of L’Aquila, L’Aquila, Italy


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In the ­last 15 ­years the ­study of the ­human ­muscle ener­getics in ­sports med­i­cine under­went a rad­ical ­change ­thanks to the pro­gres­sive intro­duc­tion of non-inva­sive tech­niques, ­including ­near ­infrared (NIR) spec­tros­copy (­NIRS). NIR ­light (700-1000 nm) pen­e­trates ­skin, sub­cu­ta­neous fat and under­lying ­muscle, and is ­either ­absorbed (by oxy- and ­deoxy-hae­mog­lobin) or scat­tered ­within the ­tissue. ­NIRS is a non-inva­sive and rel­a­tively low ­cost ­optical tech­nique ­that is ­becoming a ­widely ­used instru­ment for meas­uring ­muscle O2 sat­u­ra­tion and ­changes in hae­mog­lobin ­volume. ­Muscle O2 sat­u­ra­tion rep­re­sents a ­dynamic bal­ance ­between O2 ­supply and O2 con­sump­tion in the ­small ves­sels ­such as the cap­il­lary, arter­i­olar and ven­ular bed. ­NIRS ­offers the advan­tage of ­being ­less restric­tive ­than 31P-mag­netic res­o­nance spec­tros­copy ­with ­regard to ­muscle per­for­mance and ­more com­fort­able and suit­able for the mon­i­toring, ­with ­high tem­poral res­o­lu­tion (up to 10 Hz), of mul­tiple ­muscle ­groups. The aim of ­this ­review is to sum­marise the ­NIRS instru­men­ta­tion and the mea­sur­able param­e­ters, the ­role of ­NIRS in ­muscle exer­cise phys­iology, and the appli­ca­tions in ­sports med­i­cine. The advan­tages and the prob­lems of ­NIRS meas­ure­ments, in ­resting and exer­cising skel­etal mus­cles, are ­reported. The ­results of sev­eral ­studies sug­gest ­that ­NIRS is a pow­erful ­tool for ­being ­applied suc­cess­fully in ­sports med­i­cine. ­NIRS can objec­tively eval­uate ­muscle oxi­da­tive metab­olism in ath­letes and its mod­ifi­ca­tions fol­lowing poten­tial ther­a­peutic strat­e­gies and spe­cific ­training pro­grams.

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