Most mobile applications using HRV display “scores” based on one or more numbers. These scores are usually based on a single HRV parameter such as RMSSD, which could be compare to a grayscale analysis. Thanks to its science-based algorithm, inCORPUS® uses more parameters, including LF and HF, and provides the identification of different profiles which could be seen as a "rainbow". This helps the interpretation of data and provides personalized remediations adapted to those profiles.

We invite you to learn more about it in this article.

"Identification of HRV profiles is a game changer for training plan adjustments and performance improvement."

RMSSD: a scale of parasympathetic activity

RMSSD is a measure of the RR intervals spread in the short term. The higher the RMSSD, the bigger the difference between a given RR interval and its predecessor and successor. Therefore, interpreting RMSSD is simple, the higher it is, the higher the parasympathetic activity, the lower it is, the lower the parasympathetic activity. So it is like grey shades, more or less dark, but with no real distinction of colours that would be a lot more informative. In general, a high sympathetic activity is associated with endurance training, but it is only half of the autonomic nervous system implied in sport performance. The other half, the sympathetic system is in charge of physical activation and energy expenditure. Best performances are observed when both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic activities are high, especially for sports that are not strictly endurance such as team sports, sprinting, shooting gymnastics etc (1,2).

LF and HF are key for profiling…

On the one hand LF is a HRV parameter that represents the variations in RR intervals in the long term (between 7 and 25 seconds). Those variations are attributed to the sympathetic nervous system in majority (3). On the other hand HF represents the variations in RR intervals in the short term (between 2.5 and 7 seconds). Those variations are attributed to the parasympathetic nervous system (3). By measuring LF and HF in the supine and the standing positions, inCORPUS detects the imbalances between the para- and sympathetic systems, forewarning performance decrease. Those imbalances translate into eight profiles which the athletes use to optimize their training and improve their performances (4). Eight colours have been attributed to the eight profiles, by contrast to the grey shades they allow relevant physiological information for each athlete that can be used to pick up the best strategy for performance improvement.

… profiling is key for bringing specific solutions

The imbalances between the para- and sympathetic systems, in the supine and the standing positions result in the colour of the profile. Years of research and experimentation at the highest sport level associated various specific remediations to each profile, divided in three sets: training, diet and energetic cares. For example a red profile is associated to a simultaneous decrease in para- and sympathetic activities, which associated remediations would be to adjust your training plan by emphasizing the work using aerobic sessions, activating the regeneration process, prepare meals rich in tryptophan and prickly pear extracts (5), use hydrotherapy (cold bath, between 9 and 14°C) (6,7), massages (8) for example.

Scientific references

(1) von Rosenberg, W.; Chanwimalueang, T.; Adjei, T.; Jaffer, U.; Goverdovsky, V.; Mandic, D. P. Resolving Ambiguities in the LF/HF Ratio: LF-HF Scatter Plots for the Categorization of Mental and Physical Stress from HRV. Front. Physiol. 2017, 8, 360. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2017.00360.

(2) Schmitt, L.; Regnard, J.; Millet, G. P. Monitoring Fatigue Status with HRV Measures in Elite Athletes: An Avenue Beyond RMSSD? Front. Physiol. 2015, 6, 343. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2015.00343.

(3) Task Force. Heart Rate Variability. Standards of Measurement, Physiological Interpretation, and Clinical Use. Task Force of the European Society of Cardiology and the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology. Eur. Heart J. 1996, 17 (3), 354–381.

(4) Schmitt, L.; Willis, S. J.; Fardel, A.; Coulmy, N.; Millet, G. P. Live High-Train Low Guided by Daily Heart Rate Variability in Elite Nordic-Skiers. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 2018, 118 (2), 419–428. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-017-3784-9.

(5) Schmitt, L.; Fouillot, J.-P.; Nicolet, G.; Midol, A. Opuntia Ficus Indica’s Effect on Heart-Rate Variability in High-Level Athletes. Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 2008, 18 (2), 169–178. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.18.2.169.

(6) Mooventhan, A.; Nivethitha, L. Effects of Ice Massage of the Head and Spine on Heart Rate Variability in Healthy Volunteers. J. Integr. Med. 2016, 14 (4), 306–310. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2095-4964(16)60266-2.

(7) Al Haddad, H.; Laursen, P. B.; Chollet, D.; Lemaitre, F.; Ahmaidi, S.; Buchheit, M. Effect of Cold or Thermoneutral Water Immersion on Post-Exercise Heart Rate Recovery and Heart Rate Variability Indices. Auton. Neurosci. Basic Clin. 2010, 156 (1–2), 111–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autneu.2010.03.017.

(8) Hemmings, B.; Smith, M.; Graydon, J.; Dyson, R. Effects of Massage on Physiological Restoration, Perceived Recovery, and Repeated Sports Performance. Br. J. Sports Med. 2000, 34 (2), 109–114; discussion 115. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.34.2.109

article author image
Nicolas Bourdillon
Chief Research Officer – PhD in Physiology