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Effect of push frequency on the economy of wheelchair racers

Goosey-Tolfrey, Victoria L. and Campbell, Iain G. and Fowler, Neil E. (2000) Effect of push frequency on the economy of wheelchair racers. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 32 (1). pp. 174-181. ISSN 0195-9131

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Abstract

PURPOSE: The aim of the study was to examine the effect of varying push frequency on pushing economy (oxygen uptake at a given speed). METHODS: Eight male wheelchair racers completed a series of exercise bouts on a wheelchair ergometer (Bromking Turbo Trainer, Bromakin, UK) at 6.58 m x s(-1). Initially, subjects self-selected their freely chosen push frequency (FCF); this was followed by 4 random trials pushing at 60, 80, 120, and 140% of this FCF. Steady state VO2 was determined using Douglas bags, and heart rate was recorded by telemetry. After each condition, a small capillary blood sample was obtained and analyzed for blood lactate concentration (BLa) and a rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was recorded. RESULTS: At 6.58 m x s(-1) oxygen uptake, RPE, and gross mechanical efficiency were nonlinearly related to push frequency. Analysis of variance showed a significant effect (P < 0.05) of cycle frequency on VO2. VO2 was 11% higher at the 140% FCF compared with the 100% FCF condition. Changes in push frequency had little effect on HR although BLa increased linearly and was higher at the 140% FCF condition compared with 60% FCF (P < 0.05). A two-dimensional sagittal plane video analysis showed large interindividual differences in propulsion style. Both cycle time and the propulsion phase (%) decreased as the push frequency increased. The start angle and end angle of hand contact were similar for conditions, whereas the range of trunk motion decreased with push frequency (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: The results of this study showed that the push frequency had an effect on pushing economy, and that the athletes' FCF was the most economical.

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