BACKGROUND: Many recreational cyclists believe that lying upside-down after intense physical exertion speeds up physical recovery, enhancing subsequent exercise performance. However, the effectiveness of this technique has not yet been investigated. METHODS: 25 active cyclists (10 females/15 males; age 23.3±3.8 years old) performed a supramaximal 45-sec Wingate test before and after a 7-min recovery period at +45° or -20° of inclination, randomly, in a two-day cross-over protocol. The percentage decline of post- compared to pre-recovery Wingate performance was used to assess the recovery effectiveness. Kinetics of lactate, heart rate (HR), and mean blood pressure (MBP) during recovery were considered as physiological indices of recovery. RESULTS: 7 subjects (5 males) did not complete the +45° protocol due to pre-syncopal symptoms. The upside-down compared to the standing recovery did not change the subsequent Wingate performance, despite faster HR decline and cyclists' perception of better recovery. The upside-down recovery did not change the kinetics of lactate clearance but prevented the MBP fall. CONCLUSIONS: Among subjects who fully completed the protocol, our data reveal the ineffectiveness of the upside-down recovery to enhance subsequent exercise performance, despite the faster HR decline and personal feeling of greater recovery may suggest that assumption. Such a better psychophysical feeling when upside-down compared to standing recovery may be associated with attenuation of post-exercise hypotension symptoms. This data suggest being cautious in basing the assessment of the athlete’s recovery exclusively on the post-exercise kinetics of the HR.
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