A 0.1% L-Menthol Mouth Swill in Elite Male Rugby Players Has Different Effects in Forwards and Backs

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

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Marcia L. JerramDepartment of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Dane BakerDepartment of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Tiaki B. SmithUniversity of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

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Phil HealeyBlues Super Rugby Franchise, Auckland, New Zealand

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Lee TaylorSchool of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
Human Performance Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sydney, NSW, Australia
Sport & Exercise Discipline Group, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sydney, NSW, Australia

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Katherine BlackDepartment of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Purpose: Menthol mouth swills can improve endurance performance in the heat, which is attributed to attenuations in nonthermally derived thermal sensation (TS) and perception of effort. However, research in elite team-sport athletes is absent. Therefore, this study investigated the performance and TS responses to a 0.1% menthol mouth rinse (MR) or placebo (PLA) among elite male rugby union players. Method: Twenty-seven (15 Forwards and 12 Backs) elite male Super Rugby players completed two 3-minute 15-a-side rugby-specific conditioning blocks, with MR or PLA provided at the start of training (baseline), at the start of each 3-minute block (swill 1 [S1] and swill 2 [S2]), and at the end of training (swill 3 [S3]). TS was assessed using the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers 9-point Analog Sensation Scale after each swill and at baseline (preconditioning block). Acceptability was measured after baseline swill and S3 using a 5-question Likert scale. Physical performance was measured throughout training using global positioning system metrics. Results: MR attenuated TS from baseline to S1 (P = .003, SD = 1.01) and S2 (P = .002, SD = 1.09) in Forwards only, compared with PLA. Acceptability was higher only for Forwards in MR versus PLA at baseline (P = .003, SD = 1.3) and S3 (P = .004, SD = 0.75). MR had no effect on physical performance metrics (P > .05). Conclusion: MR attenuated the rise in TS with higher acceptability at S1 and S3 (in Forwards only) with no effect on selected physical performance metrics. Longer-duration exercise (eg, a match) in hot–humid conditions eliciting markedly increased body temperatures could theoretically allow favorable changes in TS to enhance performance—these postulations warrant experimental investigation.

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