A study out of The University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, looked at whether a combination of biofeedback and relaxation could decrease oxygen consumption in long distance runners and thus improve their running economy and performance.
Seven long distance runners were tested for running economy, peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak), peak running velocity, and stretch-shortening cycle efficiency. These runners then participated in a 6-wk training program in which they learned and practiced relaxation techniques and ran on the treadmill at a velocity eliciting 70% of peak running velocity for 10 min while biofeedback of heart rate (HR), ventilation (VE), and VO2 was presented to them.
Data indicated that participants were able to lower their VO2, HR, and VE at lactate threshold by 7.3%, 2.5%, and 9.2%, respectively, using relaxation techniques (P<0.05). Post-tests of lactate threshold, VO2peak, peak running velocity, and stretch-shortening cycle efficiency showed that these changes did not occur as a result of a training effect. The researchers concluded that the improvements in running economy occurred as a result of the relaxation and biofeedback intervention.
Citation: Caird SJ, McKenzie AD, Sleivert GG. Biofeedback and relaxation techniques improves running economy in sub-elite long distance runners. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 1999 May;31(5): pp. 717-22.