The Lymphapress, a pneumatic sequential intermittent device is recognized as one of the most effective conservative treatments for lymphoedema, due to its effective 'milking mechanism'. This led us to hypothesize that accelerated removal of fatigue-causing metabolites by mechanical massage could improve an athlete's performance capacity. We conducted trials with 11 men who exercised at a constant workload, on a cycle ergometer, until exhaustion. During a 20-min recovery period a new modified pneumatic sequential intermittent device (the MISPD) was applied to the subjects' legs. The men then performed a second constant load exercise bout. Cardiorespiratory parameters were measured during exercise and blood was withdrawn during recovery for the determination of lactate, pyruvate, ammonia, bicarbonate and pH. No difference was found in the blood levels of the 'fatigue causing metabolites' during passive recovery (PR) and recovery with the MISPD (MR). However, the MISPD effected a 45% improvement in the subjects' ability to perform the subsequent exercise bout. The accumulation of fluid in the interstitial space after exercise and its disappearance after the use of the MISPD offers one possible explanation for these results, although psychological effects cannot be discounted.
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