Topical Sodium Bicarbonate: No Improvement in Blood Buffering Capacity or Exercise Performance

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To assess the efficacy of a topical sodium bicarbonate (0.3 g/kg body weight NaHCO3) application (PR lotion; Amp Human) on blood buffering capacity and performance in recreationally active participants (study A) and moderately trained athletes (study B). Methods: In Study A, 10 participants completed 2 experimental trials: oral NaHCO3 (0.3 g/kg body weight + placebo lotion) or PR lotion (0.9036 g/kg body weight + oral placebo) applied 90 minutes prior to a cycling task to exhaustion (30-s sprints at 120% peak power output with 30-s rest). Capillary blood was collected and analyzed for pH, bicarbonate, and lactate every 10 minutes throughout the 90-minute loading period and postexercise at 5, 10, and 15 minutes. In Study B, 10 cyclists/triathletes completed 2 experimental trials, applying either PR or placebo lotion 30 minutes prior to a cycling performance task (3 × 30-s maximal sprints with 90-s recovery). Capillary blood samples were collected at baseline, preexercise, and postexercise and analyzed as per study A. Results: In Study A, pH and bicarbonate were significantly elevated from baseline after 10 minutes in the oral NaHCO3 condition and throughout recovery compared with no elevation in the PR lotion condition (P < .001). No differences in cycling time occurred between PR lotion (349 [119] s) and oral NaHCO3 (363 [80] s; P = .697). In Study B, no differences in blood parameters, mean power (P = .108), or peak power (P = .448) were observed between conditions. Conclusions: PR lotion was ineffective in altering blood buffering capacity or enhancing performance in either trained or untrained individuals.

McKay, Peeling, Binnie, and Goods are with the School of Human Sciences (Exercise and Sport Science), University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia, and the Western Australian Inst of Sport, Mt Claremont, WA, Australia. McKay is also with the Australian Inst of Sport, Bruce, ACT, Australia. Sim is with the School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia, and the Medical School, Royal Perth Hospital Unit, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia. Cross and Siegler are with the School of Science and Health, Sport and Exercise Science, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW, Australia.

McKay (alannah.mckay@ausport.gov.au) is corresponding author.
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