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Nitric Oxide (NO) is an incredibly powerful molecule that has been brought to the attention of exercise physiologists over the last couple of decades. Its role in human performance, injury healing and recovery is beginning to become clearer. Progressive athletes and coaches are learning how to utilise the benefits for athletic performance and recovery alike.

In this article we’re going to look at the evidence in support of nitric oxide and outline how coaches and athletes can benefit from this powerful boost.


Time to read: 3 minutes

Intermediate

Key Points:

  • Nitric Oxide - the overview
  • Athletic benefits of nitric oxide
  • Nitric oxide production via infrared clothing

Nitric oxide is a powerful molecule that gains more and more attention in human performance. This article outlines how coaches and athletes can benefit from it...



Nitric Oxide – the overview

Nitric oxide is a molecule with wide-ranging physiological and athletic benefits. These benefits include vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels), which helps to improve blood flow, therefore enhancing oxygen delivery and removal of exercise-induced waste products. This has a beneficial effect on endurance, power output and mobility. It also improves soft tissue healing and recovery.

Vasodilation is known to reduce blood pressure as well, which can have a profound effect and may even lead to a reduction in reliance on medication.

By harnessing the power of nitric oxide coaches and improve the physical performance of their athletes, they can reduce the injury risk, speed up the post-exercise recovery time and in reduce the time taken to recover from injury. There’s a lot of benefit from a simple compound that has been backed by research.

Athletic benefits of nitric oxide

The evidence in support of NO has been collected across numerous studies testing various physical output measures. Here’s a snapshot of just some of the evidence in support of enhanced NO and it’s effect on physical performance…

Endurance and cardiovascular performance

In a study by the university of Exeter, researchers concluded that enhancing nitric oxide production could lead to an up to 1-2% improvement in race times and could allow people to train for up to 20% longer [1].

What is interesting here is that the researchers noted that the improvements aren’t just reserved for low intensity, long duration exercise – there’s also an up to 20% improvement in tolerance of ‘severe-intensity exercise’, which would indicate it useful across the athletic spectrum.

Sprinting and high intensity running

A 2016 study looked at the effects of increasing NO levels on sprinting and high intensity running [2]. The findings of the research were that stimulating production of NO resulted in faster times across all of the distances covered in the test. Additionally, endurance improved, resulting in greater distance being covered in the endurance test.

Interestingly, alongside the physical tests there was a cognitive function test and participants with the NO supplement posted faster reaction times in the cognitive tests.

Exercise recovery and waste product removal

We know that exercise produces waste products such as lactate, and rapid removal of these is key to enhancing exercise performance and the subsequent recovery.

In a 2020 study the impact of NO on lactate removal [3], researchers noticed that there was a statistically significant improvement in the speed of lactate excretion post exercise. This led the team to conclude that NO has a positive effect on exercise performance and subsequent recovery.

Nitric Oxide and injury prevention/recovery

One of the claimed benefits of NO is the protection of tissues during trauma injuries. There are various models proposed for the role of NO in healing, but the important point is that they all show a key role for NO in the process of tissue healing.

Research on crush injuries shows ‘activation of NO during muscle crush is critical in the early phases of the skeletal muscle repair process’, highlighting the impact that NO has on tissue regeneration and repair. [4]

Nitric Oxide has also been linked in the research as an effective mediator of inflammation [5], allowing recovery to take place without compromising movement. It’s also useful in conjunction with a skilled therapist to help mediate long-term inflammation in ongoing issues.

Nitric oxide production via infrared clothing

There are complex and indirect ways that athletes can obtain NO via supplementation, but these are dose-dependent, may upset a supplementation regimen or may provide difficult from a practical point of view.

By far and away, the easiest way of increasing nitric oxide levels is via the use of infrared clothing.

The passive benefit of wearing infrared clothing means that NO stimulation occurs without any additional effort. Simply wearing the clothing is sufficient to stimulate the biochemical chain of events that results in increased NO levels. Evidence in support of infrared a stimulation of NO can be found in this study [6].

By wearing KYMIRA® clothing an athlete benefits from evidence-based performance enhancement across a number of aspects of fitness, as well as increased NO production. By simply wearing the patented KYnergy® fabric, athletes can improve their performance, reduce injury risk and enhance post-exercise recovery.

You can see the KYMIRA range here.

by Stephen Hoyles