European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 110, Issue 6, pp 1291–1298 | Cite as

The effects of a respiratory warm-up on the physical capacity and ventilatory response in paraplegic individuals

  • Christof A. LeichtEmail author
  • Paul M. Smith
  • Graham Sharpe
  • Claudio Perret
  • Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
Original Article


A respiratory warm-up (RWU) can improve exercise performance in able-bodied athletes. However, its effects in paraplegic individuals are unknown. On two occasions, nine male active paraplegic individuals performed an arm cranking test to exhaustion at 85% of their peak power output. In the intervention (INT) trial, this procedure was preceded by a RWU, whereas in the control (CON) trial, no RWU was conducted. Time to exhaustion was reduced following the RWU (CON vs. INT: 497 ± 163 vs. 425 ± 126 s, P = 0.02). Pulmonary ventilation was increased in the middle (74.8 ± 18.0 vs. 78.3 ± 19.6 L min−1, P = 0.01) and end (86.1 ± 20.4 vs. 95.4 ± 23.3 L min−1, P = 0.01) phase of exercise following the RWU. Forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) was reduced following the RWU (3.44 ± 0.45 vs. 3.27 ± 0.54 L, P = 0.02). The decrease in FEV1 following the RWU and the higher pulmonary ventilation during the INT trial suggest that the RWU fatigued the respiratory system, and hence reduced performance capacity. It is possible that the RWU used in this study is not suitable for paraplegic individuals, as their respiratory system is limited due to their disability. We conclude that a RWU impaired exercise performance in a group of active paraplegic individuals as a result of respiratory muscle fatigue.


Spinal cord injury Respiratory fatigue Arm crank ergometry Hand cycling 



This study was supported by a grant from Healthcare and Bioscience iNet, United Kingdom. Appreciation is also extended to all sportsmen who volunteered to participate in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christof A. Leicht
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul M. Smith
    • 2
  • Graham Sharpe
    • 3
  • Claudio Perret
    • 4
  • Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, The Peter Harrison Centre for Disability SportLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.School of SportUniversity of Wales InstituteCardiffUK
  3. 3.Nottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK
  4. 4.Institute of Sports MedicineSwiss Paraplegic CentreNottwilSwitzerland

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