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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.
Black (firstname.lastname@example.org) is corresponding author, https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4672-3362