Effects of repeated long-duration water immersions on skeletal muscle performance in well-trained male divers.

Research paper by Christopher M CM Myers, Jeong-Su JS Kim, John P JP Florian

Indexed on: 14 Jul '18Published on: 14 Jul '18Published in: European Journal of Applied Physiology


The objective of this study was to examine the effects of repeated long-duration water immersions (WI)s at 1.35 atmospheres absolute (ATA) on neuromuscular performance in load bearing and non-load bearing muscle groups. During a dive week (DW), fifteen well-trained male divers completed five consecutive 6-h resting dives with 18-h surface intervals while breathing compressed air at 1.35 ATA. Skeletal muscle performance assessments occurred immediately before and after each WI, and 24 and 72 h after the final WI. Exercise assessments included maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC), maximal isokinetic (IK) contraction, maximum handgrip strength (MHG). Surface electromyography measured neuromuscular activation of the quadriceps, biceps brachii (BB), and brachioradialis. MVIC torque of knee extensors and BB decreased by 6% (p = 0.001) and 2% (p = 0.014), respectively, by WI 3. Maximal IK torque of knee extensors increased by 11 and 5% post-WI on WIs 3 and 5 (p < 0.001) with greater neuromuscular activation post-WI than pre-WI (p < 0.001). Maximum IK elbow flexion torque did not change throughout the DW with BB neuromuscular activation greater post-WI than pre-WI (p < 0.001). MHG force output was 4% greater post-WI than pre-WI (p < 0.001) with increased brachioradialis activation through 72-h post-WI (p < 0.001). All muscle performance metrics returned baseline levels by 72-h post-WI. Our findings indicate that repeated WIs caused noticeable decrements in neuromuscular activation and performance of load bearing muscles on WI 3 while full recovery was observed by 72-h post-WI.