Heart Rate Variability, Omega Wave, and ARP

I read the “Does Massage Work?” thread, and it was fascinating. It was very generous of everyone to share their experiences and information regarding massage, HRV, Omega Wave, and ARP.

Obviously, I’d like to learn more about each of these technologies, as well as learn how to do some decent massage work myself.

I suppose the first place to start would be to pick up a Polar 800 watch that can output HRV data. Does anyone recommend an aftermarket program to interpret the raw data with? Or should this just be done with Polar’s own software?

I’m a masters guy, and my progress has been limited over the past couple of years, so I wonder if I’m chronically over-reaching in my training. I’m tall and lean, and train short to long with a 3-1 split, and this sometimes makes me suspect I am overcooking the high intensity aspects.

I don’t want to seem like I’m asking for too much info for nothing, but;

-Would it be possible to attain a baseline HRV reading if I took 7 to 10 days active recovery after the indoor season ends, or would it need to be completely passive rest?

-Does anyone know if anybody can do a competent Omega Wave reading in Toronto (or anywhere nearby)?

-ARP would be really cool to learn more about, but I assume that these machines are still not that common. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

-Am I wasting my time taking courses at a decent massage school? Any recommendations for the Toronto area, or comments in general about massage?

Thanks everyone!


Download Kubios HRV from the Finnish University website. I don’t have the link but Google Kubios HRV and you’ll find it. A Polar or Suunto HRM with R-R measurements is all you need to invest in. Kubios has the ability to import polar or suunto files directly.

I onw an ithlete and I started 1 week ago using it. Does anyone have any experience with it?
In case, do you find much variability in subsequent (one after the other) measurements?

I checked out the ithlete website, and it looks interesting.

It certainly beats buying a brand new Polar device when I already have a functional Polar strap that will apparently work with this unit. The most interesting thing is that it looks very easy to use too! If any of you have had to screw around with Polar gear, you know that software design is not their forte.

I guess the question is, how good is the software? The site seems pretty light on details.

svincenz, what is your experience so far with it?

HRV is always an extremely interesting source of information,as long as used with some consistency,and curiosity,always.
It can be used to monitor responses of multiple systems,well beyond cardiac activity,whatever the technology and method used to measure it:the easier,and more readable,the better.
This general character of its makes it especially valuable.

ARP is a training even more than therapy system,or a whole methodology,not just a device. And there,in the knowledge beyond the technology lies the value.The technology per se is just a very effective tool to speed processes up,when used accordingly.

Both HRV and ARP teach a precious lesson: value responses more and before than stimuli,always,if results is what you are after.

Below is from an email exchange with another forum member which hopefully adds something to this discussion. NOTE we were originally talking about long slow distance training :eek: this is their reply, I’m not clever enough for all this :slight_smile:

[i]And further - how can using a HR monitor help 1- elite performance, and more importantly 2 - how can it help the AVERAGE JOE, since most start out after they turn 30 (as you can tell from Fun runs ect, the 20-30yr age group is LOW, if they can run A grade or elite they give up, They turn 30-35 and decide it’s time to loose the kg’s and get fit again, and they keep running for many yrs)

Then you have the problem, of comparing the avg JOE to an Elite - an elite was already active as an Junior. A 35yr old just starting out, has spend maybe 15-35yrs doing nothing.

The Elite can by virtue run easily at Low HR levels.
So those that are not quite making the grade, train harder and harder, raising the HR levels during training, and therefore OVER-TRAINING.
What do they say about USAIN - and other great runners? Sometimes it looks like they are bludging too much - how can he be so great when he is taking it so easy!

Thankfully the hard work has been done by others willing to be tested.

If as an example - an elite has a La+ threshold of 92% of max HR - and yours is 70% - then doing the same program as him will just have you Overtraining. Even if training at the same HR % of max.

There are a lot of charts saying, La+ threshold is around 88-90% - but mine is only 81%. So i would be in a state of deep overtraining following them numbers.

The other point is - an Elite at say 92% of max La+ threshold, got there through training. He was at one stage with a Low La+ threshold and a Low Vo2 max, and Slow speed.
Over time - he slowly pushes up those figures, and training adjusts accordingly.

Way back when - in the late 70’s and 80’s - Seb coe did just that
The other thing is with testing - you can work out how FAST a certain HR level is - and therefore training according to Speed as outlined in the Testing.
So - They dont “need” to train with a HR monitor - But every 4-6wks they retest, using a HR monitor, and the Speeds at certain intensities and HR levels change (hopefully for the good if you trained right) and your training is adjusted accordingly.

However - HR monitors have advanced since Seb Coes days - and you can Fine Tune your training on a Daily/weekly Basis.
You can still train According to the CF principles - but with a HR monitor, you can ensure you’re heading in the right way, avoiding overtraining and constantly improving.

An example might be - to raise your La+ threshold - you’re doing intervals, go too fast, and the La+ threshold remains unchanged. IT could be seen as a Tempo workout - go the right speed, and Fitness improves - go too Fast and overtrain.
So, what might be 80% speed of an elite (with a La+ threshold of 90%) - might have to be run at 70% of max speed for me with a lower La+ threshold.

Oh - most after the age of 30-35 who take up training - after only a few hundred meters, their HR levels are already at 80% - and soon after, much higher. Even running slowly.
without a HR monitor, they get USED to the feeling - and as they get fitter, they run faster, but with still a high HR. They are lucky to run 15-20km per wk - they feel buggered all the time, but assume they are doing it right as they improve quick - but eventually Plato out. And yr after yr, they struggle and struggle with the same results.
The trick, is as you get fitter, run slower - it took me 6months before it could run 10km at 70% of max hr. It’s now a recovery run - where as when i 1st started, a 10km was an effort the entire way. I still have to concentrate on speed to keep it that slow - natural tenancy is to run off faster. It’s amazing how much better you feel after a 10k the next day with a HR level avg of only 70%. [/i]

Be careful with this product. I’m working closely with physiology profs at my university on testing the validity of Polar and Suunto HRM’s for measuring HRV. They have some concerns, but we expect those devices to pass the validity test when compared with a 3-lead ECG. However, the test protocols are very stringent to get a valid sample, including:

  • 6 minute sample duration
  • Sample take supine, unless using it as a tilt test

Watching the iPhone app being used after standing up out of bed for only one minute makes me think the results are not accurate. The concept works, but the hardware and the execution seems too simplistic to be reliable.

I test my own HRV every morning using a Suunto T6c over a 6 minute sample without getting out of bed. If I stand up to go take a bathroom break, then test my HRV, the results are spoiled. If my kids run into my bedroom and jump on the bed, the sample is spoiled. The readings are very sensitive and must be recorded regularly and consistently. Within my 6 minute samples, I can find significant variability within 1 minute sub-groupings. So I could see only taking a 1 minute sample to be very misleading.

I would opt for buying the more expensive Suunto or Polar models (which may run at about $300 - $400). But I can guarantee you will get more reliable data.

I’ve found the summary disposition results (or rather suggestions) from the ithlete unit exceedingly broad at best with my athletes. However at the same time, I’ve been relatively satisfied with what it gives me during their competition phases.

I’m much more satisfied with using the Polar devices with PC Coach. Though these are older models I can get more realtime results with this software during active training sessions. However this becomes more of a manual comparative assessment activity.

In my experience recording supine and then stadning makes a huge difference in the readings. Even if you wait 5mins + to take the readings. Below info is from the ithlete founder:

“Experienced athletes tend to have low resting heart rates (anything below 60bpm lying down is known as bradycardia, and many athletes are even lower than that).
The heart rate variability test used by ithlete measures the changes in your heart rate when you breathe in (speeds up ) and out (slows down).
Researchers have found that if your resting HR is very low lying down (45 bpm or less) then the gap between heart beats reaches a maximum value when you breathe out, and saturates or hits the end stops as it were! No problem medically, but it limits the range of measurement and you might miss some changes & further improvements in your daily value.
When you stand up, your nervous system adjusts your heart rate upwards about 10 bpm or so (depends on your height, build etc), and you see the full range of HRV when you breathe.
Researchers also found a slightly better ability to detect overtraining from HRV in the standing position.
So we recommend doing the measurement standing up, but if your resting HR when you are well recovered is in the mid 50s or higher and you are more comfortable doing the test lying down, then I don’t see why that should not be OK. Some recent research studies have done morning HRV tests lying down on moderately fit recreational athletes and had good results.”

In my experience consistency of use of a method makes up for any lack of accuracy in data collection by different devices,as while data from a single evaluation (or by a certain device) may be more or less reliable,analysis of dynamic trends of data consistently collected are always more meaningful to a purpose.

Consistency almost always trumps accuracy. YOu can only compare like to like and since the goal is to look at trends, that’s what matters.

This assumes that accuracy is not too far off. If a given device varies by a greater amount than what you’er trying to track, it’s useless across the board.

Lyle - are you still using your HRM for analyzing your HRV? I would have been curious to see how it corresponded to your own personal training program and some overtraining scenarios.

I’ve been monitoring myself daily for the past few months. I’ve dropped my use of caffeine and have noticed significant differences in my HRV readings, as I found my coffee consumption correlated with mood swings, anxiety and other issues.

However, I am not in any organized training program training for an event.

I’m usually in the low 50s (HR) and I take readings pretty soon as much as I wake up, I’m talking about the ithlete.
The only problem (apart from sometimes the frustration of getting it to work) is sometimes a ±5 difference in subsequent readings.
My algorithm is: I take two and if they are pretty much the same (± 2) I keep that. If they are far off from each other, I keep taking readings and notice tendencies. For example:
80-72-78-78, that’s it, I keep 78.

HRV seems decently (inversely) correlated with HR.
I wonder how many of the people gathering HRV dataare doing real statistical analyses to look for relationships among variables. I think not many.

And the Polar approach has been validated in one paper I recall.

The concept is sound. The application is not

In the real world I cannot agree more

We do this daily with upwards on 20 team sport players every day of competition training and consistency is the most important factor.

FAR too many people worry about precision in a sport where precision goes out the window in the warm up - let alone the game.

The key word here, might I suggest is, “reliability”

Once the method is reliable and repeatable - in the real world - accuracy is largely irrelevant.

Yes, I mistyped. Reliability in terms of the measurement being reliably the same. It doesn’t matter if a scale if 5 lbs off so long as it is always teh same 5 lbs off.

The reservations NumberTwo mentioned are pretty compelling.

If the test is only six minutes long first thing in the morning…hell, I hit my snooze button three to five times before I get up!

Also, it seems like six minutes of data would necessarily cut back on potential for variation compared to the ithlete by well…about six times, though as svincenz stated, you could always repeat the test a number of times on the ithlete.

Can the reading be used straight off the Suunto / Polar, or does it have to be manipulated?

The data can be collected by the Polar or Suunto and imported directly into Kubios HRV which allows you to display multiple statistical analyses. The most important one is the plot that shows you the influence of the sympathetic vs parasympathetic nervous systems (Frequency Domain Analysis). Send me a PM with your email address and I’ll send you a summary output sheet produced by Kubios HRV.

This is the data output the program was giving me