Athletes love an excellent wellness development. Something that guarantees to spice up efficiency or give the slightest edge to anybody competing on the highest stage of their sport is going to find the ears of elite athletes and Olympians — even (or particularly) if it seems to be like a torture machine.
In 2016, the fad was cupping: a method that used suction cups as ache reduction, leaving athletes like Michael Phelps trying like they’d simply fought off a large octopus. This yr, its blood movement restriction, The New York Times reported. Some swimmers and runners are making use of tourniquet-like bands to their legs and arms within the hopes that it’ll enhance their coaching.
The technique was first developed in 1966 by Japanese powerlifter Yoshiaki Sato, but it surely’s solely simply caught on with high-profile athletes prior to now few years. American swimmer Michael Andrew and Galen Rupp, an American distance runner, are each utilizing blood movement restriction throughout Olympic coaching.
Like every good performance-enhancing development, there’s nonetheless solely restricted proof displaying if or the way it works. Some studies present that athletes like rugby, soccer, and netball gamers elevated their muscle energy and endurance after coaching with blood movement restriction for a couple of weeks. It might enhance energy by rising stress on muscle cells, which promotes muscle improvement, researchers speculate. However there have solely been a couple of analysis research on the method. “Solely 9 research exist on this subject, making concrete conclusions tentative,” wrote the authors of 1 2015 review.
That’s been the case for other tools, like cupping and Kinesio tape, which athletes have stretched throughout joints to attempt to keep away from accidents or forestall ache. The advantages of methods like these are exhausting to show, and athletes are likely to undertake them based mostly on anecdotal proof from friends or in the event that they really feel like they assist — no matter concrete proof.
On the finish of the day, although, perhaps that’s advantageous. The placebo impact is highly effective, and sports activities are as a lot psychological as they’re bodily. There’s a threat that having high-profile athletes put a lot emphasis on unproven instruments would possibly unfold misinformation or distract from good sports activities science, John Sullivan, a scientific psychologist and sport scientist, told Vice in 2018. Blood movement restriction might not be one thing that folks can or ought to do at residence: the gear is expensive, and it can be dangerous if not accomplished accurately. However for elite athletes underneath the fixed supervision of sports activities scientists, so long as a method doesn’t damage, believing that it helps would possibly really be sufficient to present them an edge.