Category: NIRS

New article published #2: Near Infrared Spectroscopy

This is published online first and will appear in print in 2013. Here we showed how good NIRS is when assessing elite athletes.

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;765:81-6.

NIRS Measurements with Elite Speed Skaters: Comparison Between the Ice Rink and the Laboratory.

Hesford C, Cardinale M, Laing S, Cooper CE.


Wearable, wireless near-infrared (NIR) spectrometers were used to compare changes in on-ice short-track skating race simulations over 1,500 m with a 3-min cycle ergometry test at constant power output (400 W). The subjects were six male elite short-track speed skaters. Both protocols elicited a rapid desaturation (∆TSI%) in the muscle during early stages (initial 20 s); however, asymmetry between right and left legs was seen in ΔTSI% for the skating protocol, but not for cycling. Individual differences between skaters were present in both protocols. Notably, one individual who showed a relatively small TSI% change (-10.7%, group mean = -26.1%) showed a similarly small change during the cycling protocol (-5.8%, group mean = -14.3%). We conclude that NIRS-detected leg asymmetry is due to the specific demands of short-track speed skating. However, heterogeneity between individuals is not specific to the mode of exercise. Whether this is a result of genuine differences in physiology or a reflection of differences in the optical properties of the leg remains to be determined.

[PubMed – in process]

New article published: Near Infrared Spectroscopy

This was recently published. Here we demonstrated how local measures of muscle oxygenation can provide clever information on metabolic demands and help the coaching process identify the appropriate training modalities to improve performance.

The abstract is below:

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Aug 14. [Epub ahead of print]

Effect of Race Distance on Muscle Oxygenation in Short-Track Speed Skating.

Hesford CM, Laing S, Cardinale M, Cooper CE.


1 Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, UK; 2 British Olympic Medical Institute, University College London, UK; 3 University of Aberdeen, School of Medical Sciences, Aberdeen, Scotland (UK), 4 School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, UK.


Previous work identified an asymmetry in tissue desaturation changes in the left and right quadriceps muscles during on-ice skating at maximal speed in males. The effect of changing race distance on the magnitude of desaturation or leg asymmetry is unknown.


6 elite male skaters (age = 23 ± 1.8 years, height 1.8 ± 0.1m, mass = 80.1 ± 5.7kg, mid-thigh skin fold thickness = 7 ± 2mm), and 4 elite female skaters (age; 21 ± 4 years, height; 1.6 ± 0.1 m, mass; 65.2 ± 4.3 kg, mid-thigh skin fold thickness; 10 ± 1mm), were studied. Subjects completed time trials over 3 race distances. Blood lactate concentration and O2 uptake measurements were combined with NIRS measures of muscle oxygenation (TSI) and blood volume (tHb) in the right and left vastus lateralis (VL).


Neither race distance nor gender had a significant effect on the magnitude of maximal muscle desaturation (ΔTSImax). Pattern of local changes in tHb during individual laps was dependent upon subtle differences in skating technique used for the different race distances. Linear regression analysis revealed asymmetry between right and left leg desaturation in males during the final stages of each race distance, but not in females. At all race distances local muscle desaturation reached maximal values much more quickly than global VO2peak.


The use of wearable NIRS devices enabled measurement of muscle oxygenation during competitive race simulation; thus providing unique insight into the effects of velocity and technique changes on local muscle oxygenation. This may have implications for training and race pacing in speed skating.