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Caffeine Abstinence in Habituated Users: Cardiovascular Responses to Exercise With Blood Flow Restriction

Matthew A. Chatlaong, Daphney M. Carter, William M. Miller, Chance J. Davidson, and Matthew B. Jessee

Context: Blood flow restriction resistance exercise studies often require caffeine abstinence to avoid cardiovascular effects that could change the blood flow restriction stimulus. However, effects may be attenuated for habituated users. Objective: To compare cardiovascular responses to blood flow restriction resistance exercise when habituated users consume or abstain from caffeine. Design: Thirty participants completed a 3-visit within-subject study beginning with familiarization and caffeine intake questionnaire. Methods: Visits 2 and 3 consisted of blood flow restriction resistance exercise (3 sets bicep curls to failure, 30% 1-repetition max, 40% arterial occlusion pressure [AOP]), following participants’ normal caffeine consumption (CAFF) or abstaining (ABS). AOP, systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure, and heart rate were measured preexercise and postexercise. Prevalues and preexercise to postexercise change scores for SBP, DBP, AOP (all millimeters of mercury), heart rate (in beats per minute), and repetitions were compared between conditions. Results are represented as mean (SD). Results: Preexercise AOP was similar for CAFF (137.8 [14.4]) and ABS (137.1 [14.9], BF10 = 0.2), although pre-SBP was higher for CAFF (115.4 [9.8]) than ABS (112.3 [9.4], BF10 = 1.9). Pre-DBP was similar between conditions. The exercise-induced change in AOP was greater for CAFF (18.4 [11.2]) than ABS (13.2 [14.9]), though evidence was anecdotal (BF10 = 0.7). Exercise-induced changes in SBP, DBP, and heart rate were similar between conditions (all BF10 ≤ 0.40). More repetitions were completed for CAFF (63 [26]) than ABS (57 [17], BF10 = 2.1). Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that for habituated users, maintaining daily caffeine habits will not have substantial effects on common cardiovascular variables relevant to blood flow restriction.

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The Influence of Psychological Factors on Physical Activity in Individuals With Patellofemoral Pain

Timothy J. Gilgallon, Sungwan Kim, and Neal R. Glaviano

Context: Patellofemoral pain (PFP) is a prevalent chronic condition characterized by retropatellar or peripatellar pain exacerbated by various knee flexion-based activities. Previous research has highlighted the impact of psychological constructs on pain and function in chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions, yet their influence on physical activity in PFP cohorts remains unexplored. We aimed to evaluate whether pain self-efficacy and pain catastrophizing predict variations in steps per day and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among individuals with PFP. Design: Cross-sectional observational study. Methods: Thirty-nine participants (11 males) with PFP were included. Dependent variables were steps per day and minutes of MVPA. Independent variables were pain self-efficacy and pain catastrophizing, measured by the pain self-efficacy questionnaire and the pain catastrophizing scale. Participants were given an ActiGraph wGT3X-BT for 7 days to assess physical activity. Correlations were assessed between psychological measures and physical activity, and a simple linear regression was performed on psychological variables that correlated with physical activity. Alpha was set a priori at P < .05. Results: Pain self-efficacy scores displayed a moderate association with steps per day (rho = .45, P = .004) and a weak association with MVPA (rho = .38, P = .014). Pain catastrophizing scores exhibited no significant associations with physical activity (P < .05). Regression models affirmed pain self-efficacy scores as significant predictors of both steps per day (F 1,37 = 10.30, P = .002) and MVPA (F 1,37 = 8.98, P = .004). Conclusions: Psychological measures continue to demonstrate value to clinicians treating PFP. Pain self-efficacy scores were moderately associated with steps per day and weakly associated with MVPA, explaining nearly a fifth of the variation in physical activity. Clinicians should prioritize the assessment of pain self-efficacy when treating individuals with PFP, potentially employing psychological interventions to improve physical activity in the PFP population.

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Isokinetic Peak Torque Improvement and Shoulder Muscle Ratios Imbalance Correction After Specific Strength Training on a New Ballistic Throwing Device: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Brahim Agrebi, Wissem Dhahbi, Hatem Abidi, Sofien Kasmi, Narjes Houas, Mokhtar Chtara, and Karim Chamari

Context: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of 8-week ballistic-strength-training program using a validated specific throwing device (ie, Arm/Shoulder Specific Strength Device), on isokinetic shoulders’ rotation muscle-torques and ratios as well as range of motion in team handball players. Design: A repeated-measures experimental design with a randomized controlled trial was used. Methods: Twenty-six high-level competitive male U-19 team handball players were randomly assigned into training (TG, n = 15) and control (n = 11) groups. The TG undertook a twice a week for 8-week periodized throws program with an individually predetermined optimal load. The program incorporated shackled eccentric and concentric exercises using the Arm/Shoulder Specific Strength Device. Peak torques, functional, and conventional ratios for both arms at different angular velocities (60°·s−1, 180°·s−1, and 300°·s−1) were assessed over time and between groups, using an isokinetic dynamometer. Results: A significant improvement for TG (P < .01; d = 1.13 [moderate]; +20.2%) of the concentric peak torques for dominant arm in external rotation was observed at 300°·s−1. Significant (P < .05–.01) increases were also noted for nondominant arm at the 3 studied angular velocities. In addition, 300°·s−1 eccentric peak torques of the dominant arm and nondominant arm have significantly improved for both external and internal rotations (P < .05; d = .99 [moderate] and d = 1.21 [large]; +15.7% and + 17.9%, respectively) with small changes at the other angular assessed velocities. Posttraining, TG’s dominant arm showed significant improvements (P < .05–.01) in functional and conventional ratios at all velocities. Notably, significant differences (P < .05–.01) were observed at 60°·s−1 and across all velocities when comparing the TG with the control group. TG showed significant increase for internal rotation and external rotation shoulder range of motions (P < .05; d = 1.22–1.27 [large]), +5.0% and +7.7%, respectively). Conclusions: The specific 8-week throwing training program on the Arm/Shoulder Specific Strength Device showed significant performance improvements in almost all assessed isokinetic concentric and eccentric peak torques as well as internal and external range of motion increase for both arms while ensuring rotator cuff torque ratios and shoulder mobility in team handball real sport-specific condition.

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Reliability of Ultrasound Assessment of Hamstring Morphology, Quality, and Stiffness Among Healthy Adults and Athletes: A Systematic Review

Maria Belinda Cristina C. Fidel, Charidy S. Ramos, Donald G. Manlapaz, Helen Banwell, and Consuelo B. Gonzalez-Suarez

Context: The incidence and recurrence rate of hamstring strain injuries remain persistently high, with recurrent injuries leading to increased time lost during play and extended recovery periods compared with initial injury. Ultrasound imaging assesses important factors such as hamstring fascicle length (FL), pennation angle (PA), cross-sectional area (CSA), muscle thickness (MT), echo intensity (EI), and shear wave elastography (SWE), all impacting athletic performance. However, its reliability must be established before employing any measurement tool in research or clinical settings. Objectives: To determine the reliability and measurement error of ultrasound for assessing hamstring FL, PA, CSA, MT, EI, and SWE among healthy adults and athletes; to synthesize the information regarding the operationalization of ultrasound. Evidence Acquisition: A systematic literature search was done from January 1990 to February 5, 2023, to identify reliability and validity studies of hamstring ultrasound assessment published in peer-reviewed journals with identifiable methodology of outcome measures. Evidence Synthesis: Intraclass correlation coefficient measurement of 14 included studies reported moderate to excellent intrarater, interrater, and test–retest reliabilities of FL, PA, and MT regardless of the site of muscle testing, probe size, and setting, state of muscle, and use of different techniques in the extrapolation of FL. Good to excellent test–retest reliability rates for all hamstring anatomic CSA along midmuscle and different percentages of thigh length using panoramic imaging. Good intrarater reliability of EI regardless of gender and orientation of the probe but with excellent intrarater reliability in transverse scan using maximum region of interest. Good intrarater, interrater, and interday repeatability on SWE with the muscle in a stretched position. Conclusion: Evidence from studies with a predominantly low risk of bias shows that ultrasound is a reliable tool to measure hamstring FL, PA, CSA, MT, EI, and SWE in healthy adults and athletes under various experimental conditions.

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Test–Retest Reliability and Visual Perturbation Performance Costs During 2 Reactive Agility Tasks

Ellen M. Smith, David A. Sherman, Samantha Duncan, Andy Murray, Meredith Chaput, Amanda Murray, David M. Bazett-Jones, and Grant E. Norte

Context: High secondary injury rates after orthopedic surgeries have motivated concern toward the construct validity of return-to-sport test batteries, as it is evident that common strength and functional assessments fail to elicit pertinent behaviors like visual search and reactive decision making. This study aimed to establish the test–retest reliability of 2 reactive agility tasks and evaluate the impact of visual perturbation on physical performance. Methods: Fourteen physically active individuals completed 2 agility tasks with reaction time (ie, 4 corner agility), working memory, and pathfinding (ie, color recall) components. Participants completed both tasks 4 times in 2 sessions scheduled 7 days apart. Outcomes included performance metrics of reaction time, time to target, number of targets, and total time assessed with reactive training timing gates. To assess test–retest reliability, we used intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), standard error of measurement (SEM), and minimal detectable change (MDC). Stroboscopic goggles induced visual perturbation during the fourth trial of each task. To assess the effect of visual perturbation, we used paired t tests and calculated performance costs. Results: The 4-corner agility task demonstrated excellent reliability with respect to reaction time (ICC3,1 = .907, SEM = 0.13, MDC = 0.35 s); time to light (ICC3,1 = .935, SEM = 0.07, MDC = 0.18 s); and number of lights (ICC3,1 = .800, SEM = 0.24, MDC = 0.66 lights). The color recall task demonstrated good-to-excellent test–retest reliability for time to lights (ICC3,1 = .818–.953, SEM = 0.07–0.27, MDC = 0.19–0.74 s); test time (ICC3,1 = .969, SEM = 5.43, MDC = 15.04 s); and errors (ICC3,1 = .882, SEM = 0.19, MDC = 0.53 errors). Visual perturbation resulted in increased time to target (P = .022–.011), number of targets (P = .039), and total test time (P = .013) representing moderate magnitude degradation of performance (d = 0.55–0.87, performance costs = 5%–12%). Conclusions: Both tasks demonstrated acceptable test–retest reliability. Performance degraded on both tasks with the presence of visual perturbation. These results suggest standardized reactive agility tasks are reliable and could be developed as components of dynamic RTS testing.

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Changes in Hip Isometric Strength of Female College Soccer Players After High-Workload Training Session

Maxine Furtado Mesa, Jeffrey R. Stout, L. Colby Mangum, Kyle S. Beyer, Michael J. Redd, and David H. Fukuda

Context: The hip adductor and abductor muscles play vital roles as stabilizers in the lower-extremity. Their activation during soccer-specific actions is essential, but local muscular fatigue can hinder athletic performance and increase the risk of injury. Design: This study aimed to observe the variations in frontal plane hip strength in female college soccer players before and after a high-workload soccer-specific training session. Furthermore, the study sought to compare the relative changes in hip strength with the internal and external load measures obtained during that session. Methods: Twenty female college soccer players participated in a retrospective observational study. Isometric hip adductor and abductor strength were measured before and after a training session in the college spring season. Measurements were taken with a handheld dynamometer (MicroFET 2) while the players were supine. Global positioning system sensors (Catapult Vector S7), commonly worn by players during training sessions and competitive matches, were used to measure external and internal loads. Statistical analyses were performed using paired samples t test to assess hip adductor and abductor strength changes before and after the training session. Spearman rank was used to identify correlation coefficients between global positioning system data and isometric hip strength. Results: The findings revealed significant decreases in the strength of the right hip adduction (P = .012, −7% relative change), right abduction (P = .009, −7.6% relative change), and left abduction (P = .016, −4.9% relative change) after the training session. Furthermore, relative decreases in hip isometric adduction and abduction strength are related to the distance covered at high speeds. Conclusion: The results of this study highlight that hip isometric adduction and abduction strength tend to decrease after exposure to high workloads during soccer-specific training.

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Does a Hip Muscle Activation Home Exercise Program Change Movement Patterns on the Forward Step-Down Test?

Erin McCallister, Caroline Hughs, Mia Smith, and Daniel W. Flowers

Context: Poor knee biomechanics contribute to knee joint injuries. Neuromuscular control over knee position is partially derived from the hip. It is unknown whether isolated activation training of the gluteal muscles improves lower-extremity frontal plane mechanics. This study examined if a home-based hip muscle activation program improves performance on the Forward Step-Down Test as well as increases surface electromyography (sEMG) activation of the gluteal muscles. Design: The study utilized a single-group repeated-measures design. Methods: Thirty-five participants (24 females, mean age = 23.17 [SD 1.36] years) completed an 8-week hip muscle activation program. The Forward Step-Down Test score and sEMG of gluteus maximus and medius were assessed preintervention and postintervention. Results: Forward Step-Down Test scores improved significantly from preintervention (Mdn = 3.5) to postintervention (Mdn = 3.0, T = 109, P = .010, r = .31.), but this result did not meet clinical significance. sEMG analysis revealed a significant increase in mean gluteus maximus activation (P = .028, d = 1.19). No significant dose–response relationship existed between compliance and the Forward Step-Down Test scores or sEMG results. Conclusions: A home-based hip activation program increases gluteus maximus activation without clinically significant changes in frontal plane movement quality. Future studies may find clinical relevance by adding motor learning to the activation training program to improve functional muscle use.

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Effectiveness of Platelet-Rich Plasma in Reducing Pain and Increasing Function After Acute Lateral Ankle Sprain: A Critically Appraised Topic

Erin Frey, Christopher D. Brown, and Brady Tripp

Clinical Scenario: Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in athletics, and many lead to recurrent sprains, chronic ankle instability, and persistent symptoms. Treatment improvements are needed. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) involves formulating autologous plasma with higher platelet concentration to be injected in the desired tissue. There is currently high-quality evidence supporting the use of PRP with lateral epicondylitis and knee osteoarthritis to accelerate the healing process and decrease pain. Clinical Question: Does the injection of PRP relieve pain faster and improve function compared with no injection or placebo in patients with a lateral ankle sprain? Summary of Key Findings: A computerized search yielded 191 studies; of these, 3 studies fit the inclusion and exclusion criteria. PRP injection reduces pain and increases function after lateral ankle sprain 5 to 8 weeks after intervention. Clinical Bottom Line: The use of PRP after lateral ankle sprain to decrease pain and increase function is supported with moderate evidence. Strength of Recommendation: Based on the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy, evidence from the included studies is considered as level B, reflecting limited quality patient-oriented evidence.

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The Effects of Augmenting Balance Training with Stroboscopic Goggles on Postural Control in Chronic Ankle Instability Patients: A Critically Appraised Topic

Joshua S. Mohess, Hyunwook Lee, Serkan Uzlaşir, and Erik A. Wikstrom

Clinical Scenario: Individuals with chronic ankle instability (CAI) typically complete balance training protocols to improve postural control and reduce recurrent injury risk. However, the presence of CAI persists after traditional balance training protocols suggesting that such programs may be missing elements that could be beneficial to patients. Visual occlusion modalities, such as stroboscopic goggles, may be able to augment balance training exercises to further enhance postural control gains in those with CAI. However, a cumulative review of the existing evidence has yet to be conducted. Focused Clinical Question: Does wearing stroboscopic goggles during balance training result in greater improvements to postural control than balance training alone in those with CAI? Summary of Key Findings: All 3 studies indicated that the stroboscopic goggles group had statistically significant improvements in either a measure of static or dynamic postural control relative to the standard balance training group. However, significant improvements were not consistent across all postural control outcomes assessed in the included studies. Clinical Bottom Line: Postural control may improve more in those with CAI when stroboscopic goggles were worn while completing balance training exercises relative to completing balance training exercises alone. Strength of Recommendation: Overall, consistent moderate- to high-quality evidence was present in the 3 studies, suggesting grade C evidence for the use of stroboscopic goggles during balance training in those with CAI.

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Respiratory Muscle Training in Para-Athletes: A Systematic Review on the Training Protocols and Effects on Reported Outcomes

Buket Akinci, Cigdem Emirza Cilbir, Ahmet Kocyigit, and Goksen Kuran Aslan

Context and Objectives: Respiratory muscle training (RMT) is considered an effective tool to improve cardiorespiratory limitations in athletes. The goals of this systematic review were to explore the role of RMT and its implementation within sport rehabilitation programs in para-athletes. Evidence Acquisition: Several databases were searched until January 2024. Eligible studies were independently reviewed by 2 reviewers. Quality assessment was made using the PEDro scale and version 2 of the Cochrane Risk-of-Bias Tool for Randomized Trials. Eight studies (a total of 108 participants) were selected for the analysis. Evidence Synthesis: Five studies preferred using resistive loading, while 2 studies used normocapnic hyperpnea, and 1 study used threshold inspiratory muscle training. Respiratory functions (respiratory muscle strength and endurance, spirometry measures) and exercise performance were assessed as the main outcomes. Significant increases in respiratory muscle strength were reported in 5 studies. Two studies observed improvement in respiratory muscle endurance and 3 studies reported increased exercise capacity. Conclusions: This review suggests that although RMT can enhance respiratory muscle strength and endurance, it should not be considered the primary method for boosting the exercise performance of para-athletes. Additional research is necessary to explore the impact of various RMT techniques on different outcomes from the perspective of sport rehabilitation in para-athletes.