Microwaves speed up muscle recovery after strength training
Strength athletes who use microwaves for their muscles a day before training recover more quickly from their workout. The treatment has an anticatabolic effect. Whether the effect is so strong that strength athletes can also build up more muscle from microwaves the sports scientists at Central University in New Delhi, India don't say. But who knows...
Animal studies have shown that damaged muscles recover faster if they are exposed to intense heat, [J Orthop Sci. 2007 Jan;12(1):74-82.] and according to a quirky Japanese human study, heat treatment can make muscles stronger and bigger without having to train.
The Indian researcher Sumbul Zaheer wanted to know whether exposure to microwaves could protect muscles from the effects of intensive physical exertion. Microwaves are not radiant heat, but do heat up the water molecules in tissue. This is how microwave ovens work.
Half of the students did a light biceps training two days before the workout. For this they did 5 sets of 6 eccentric reps. They did this with 10 percent of the weight they would be using two days later for the heavy workout. [10% - ECC] The light training session induced their muscle fibres to produce enzymes that protect muscle cells during intensive exertion. [J Sci Med Sport. 2008 Jun;11(3):291-8.]
Zaheer exposed the other half of the students to heat one day before they did the heavy biceps workout. To be more precise: he gave their biceps a 150-Watt microwave diathermy treatment that lasted 20 minutes. For this he used equipment like the one on the right.
The LDH level in the blood rose by about the same amount in both groups. LDH is a marker for muscle damage. The results seem to indicate that the microwave treatment protected the muscles a little better than the light workout did.
Three days after the treatments both groups of students reported approximately the same amount of soreness.
"The present study concluded that 2 days prior light load eccentric exercise or 1 day prior heat using microwave diathermy had similar effects on muscle damage markers after maximal eccentric exercise", the researchers wrote. "Therefore both of them can be used interchangeably as a preventive measure against muscle damage in clinical settings depending upon the availability of the equipment, therapist's skill or knowledge and client's preference."
"However with time, their effects on LDH activity were found to be different. Further studies are therefore recommended to establish a more detailed analysis of the effects on changes in LDH activity by comparison up to several days post exercise."
Asian J Sports Med. 2014 Sep;5(3):e23044.
Muscle growth without training? Try anabolic heat therapy 10.10.2010