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Francesco Campa, Alessandro Piras, Milena Raffi and Stefania Toselli

Context: Sports practice leads athletes to develop a specific body composition, coordination patterns, and basic motor skills based on the different tactical and physical needs. Objectives: To present and compare a wide range of functional movement patterns and body composition (BC) parameters of high-level male athletes playing different sports and to determine if there was a relationship between the parameters examined. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Team facilities. Participants: A total of 30 volleyball, 25 soccer, and 30 rugby players (age = 25.9 [5.0] y and body mass index = 25.6 [4.1] kg/m2). Interventions: Functional movement patterns and anthropometric measurements were collected by a physician specifically trained. Main Outcome Measures: Body mass index, fat mass, fat-free mass, upper-arm muscle and fat area, calf muscle and fat area, thigh muscle and fat area, and functional movement screen (FMS) scores. In addition to considering the FMS total score, the authors separated the screen into 3 parts: FMSmove, FMSflex, and FMSstab. Results: The rugby players showed a higher number of asymmetrical and dysfunctional movements than the other athletes (P < .01), while the highest scores in FMSflex were obtained by the volleyball players (P < .01). In addition, most of the asymmetrical and painful movements in the athletes were measured on the shoulder mobility test. Muscle and fat areas differed significantly among the athletes (P < .05). Significant associations were found between movement patterns and several BC variables. In particular, large negative correlations were measured between percentage of fat mass (r = −.616; P < .01), upper-arm fat area (r = −.519; P < .01), and FMS total score. Conclusions: Functional movement patterns and BC differ in athletes according to the sport practiced. Furthermore, reaching an optimal BC is essential to achieve a satisfactory quality of movement.

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Jan Wilke, Kristin Kalo, Daniel Niederer, Lutz Vogt and Winfried Banzer

Context: Recent research has underpinned the occurrence of nonlocal exercise effects. For instance, self-myofascial release (SMR) of the plantar fascia increases hamstring extensibility. A possible mechanism consists in a mechanical force transmission across myofascial chains. However, as the degree of structural continuity in these chains decreases with age, the magnitude of the above described remote effects might also be reduced throughout a lifespan. Objective: To examine the age dependency of nonlocal exercise effects following plantar fascia SMR. Design: Regression experimental study. Setting: General population. Participants: 168 healthy participants (M age = 45 [21] y, 85 males). Intervention: One 120 s bout of plantar foot SMR, performed in standing position. Main Outcomes Measure: Hamstring extensibility was assessed using sit and reach testing. Relative pre–post differences were classified as no improvement, clinically nonrelevant improvement, or clinically relevant improvement according to previously published data. The age dependency of the effects was calculated by means of multinomial stepwise logistic regression. If the latter revealed other factors than age to affect treatment effectivity, their effect was eliminated using partial correlation. Results: SMR increased hamstring extensibility by 10.1% (pre: 24.9 [9.7] cm, post: 27.4 [9.3] cm, P < .001). About 99 participants (58.9%) attained a clinically relevant change. Multinomial logistic regression demonstrated no influence of sex, amount of physical activity, height, body mass index, and time of day, but a significant impact of baseline flexibility and age (Nagelkerke’s r 2 = .32, P < .001). Post hoc partial correlation analysis demonstrated that age, corrected for baseline flexibility, had a small to moderate association with treatment effectivity (r = .29, P < .001). Conclusions: Plantar foot SMR increases hamstring extensibility, which is explained by age to a small degree. Additional research is warranted to delineate the substrate of remote exercise effects. Besides mechanical force transmission, cortical adaptations might also represent the driving factor.

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Susan Lagaert, Mieke Van Houtte and Henk Roose

We study (fe)male adolescents’ interest in watching sports as a spectator using logistic multilevel analyses based on a representative sample of 5837 Flemish (Belgian) pupils in the first year of secondary education. To uncover the mechanisms behind the ‘gendering’ of passive sports consumption, this study evaluates how the gender gap (characterized by higher male involvement) relates to the gender identity, experienced pressures for gender-conforming behavior and gender role attitudes of the students. Results indicate that the gender gap in interest is to a large extent related to the studied mechanisms. The findings have implications for research on the feminization of sports fandom and call for further analysis of the processes behind the gender gap in consumption of different sports with masculine or feminine connotations and of on-site and TV spectatorship.

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Jairo H. Migueles, Alex V. Rowlands, Florian Huber, Séverine Sabia and Vincent T. van Hees

Recent technological advances have transformed the research on physical activity initially based on questionnaire data to the most recent objective data from accelerometers. The shift to availability of raw accelerations has increased measurement accuracy, transparency, and the potential for data harmonization. However, it has also shifted the need for considerable processing expertise to the researcher. Many users do not have this expertise. The R package GGIR has been made available to all as a tool to convert multi-day high resolution raw accelerometer data from wearable movement sensors into meaningful evidence-based outcomes and insightful reports for the study of human daily physical activity and sleep. This paper aims to provide a one-stop overview of GGIR package, the papers underpinning the theory of GGIR, and how research contributes to the continued growth of the GGIR package. The package includes a range of literature-supported methods to clean the data and provide day-by-day, as well as full recording, weekly, weekend, and weekday estimates of physical activity and sleep parameters. In addition, the package also comes with a shell function that enables the user to process a set of input files and produce csv summary reports with a single function call, ideal for users less proficient in R. GGIR has been used in over 90 peer-reviewed scientific publications to date. The evolution of GGIR over time and widespread use across a range of research areas highlights the importance of open source software development for the research community and advancing methods in physical behavior research.

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Heather J. Leach, Katie B. Potter and Mary C. Hidde

Background: To maintain increases in physical activity (PA), interventions that implement group dynamics principles and strategies with the intent of enhancing group cohesion may be advantageous. This study examined group cohesion and PA following a group dynamics-based PA intervention among breast cancer survivors. Methods: The study was designed as a pilot randomized controlled trial comparing an 8-week group dynamics-based intervention with an individually supervised intervention. Group cohesion was measured by the Physical Activity Group Environment Questionnaire, and PA was measured at baseline, post-intervention, and 3-month follow-up using a self-report questionnaire and pedometer. Results: Group cohesion levels were high following the intervention and positively associated with PA at 3-month follow-up (ranger = .182–.555). At 3-month follow-up, 91.7% of participants in the group-dynamics-based intervention (n = 12) were classified as moderately active or greater, compared with 54.5% in the individually supervised intervention (n = 11). Conclusions: These results suggest that, for breast cancer survivors, peer support and fostering group cohesion as part of an exercise program may help to support PA following the completion of a structured intervention. A larger trial with longer follow-up is needed to establish comparative efficacy for a group-dynamics-based exercise intervention to enhance long-term PA adherence in breast cancer survivors.

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Steven H. Doeven, Michel S. Brink, Barbara C.H. Huijgen, Johan de Jong and Koen A.P.M. Lemmink

During rugby sevens tournaments, it is crucial to balance match load and recovery to strive for optimal performance. Purpose: To determine changes in well-being, recovery, and neuromuscular performance during and after an elite women’s rugby sevens tournament and assess the influence of match-load indicators. Methods: Twelve elite women rugby sevens players (age = 25.3 [4.1]y, height = 169.0 [4.0] cm, weight = 63.9 [4.9] kg, and body fat = 18.6% [2.7%]) performed 5 matches during a 2-d tournament of the Women’s Rugby Sevens World Series. Perceived well-being (fatigue, sleep quality, general muscle soreness, stress levels, and mood), total quality of recovery, and countermovement-jump flight time were measured on match days 1 and 2, 1 d posttournament, and 2 d posttournament. Total distance; low-, moderate-, and high-intensity running; and physical contacts during matches were derived from global positioning system–based time–motion analysis and video-based notational analysis, respectively. Internal match load was calculated by session rating of perceived exertion and playing time (rating of perceived exertion × duration). Results: Well-being (P < .001), fatigue (P < .001), general muscle soreness (P < .001), stress levels (P < .001), mood (P = .005), and total quality of recovery (P < .001) were significantly impaired after match day 1 and did not return to baseline values until 2 d posttournament. More high-intensity running was related to more fatigue (r = −.60, P = .049) and a larger number of physical contacts with more general muscle soreness (r = −.69, P = .013). Conclusion: Perceived well-being and total quality of recovery were already impaired after match day 1, although performance was maintained. High-intensity running and physical contacts were predominantly related to fatigue and general muscle soreness, respectively.

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Mathew Hillier, Louise Sutton, Lewis James, Dara Mojtahedi, Nicola Keay and Karen Hind

The practice of rapid weight loss (RWL) in mixed martial arts (MMA) is an increasing concern but data remain scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence, magnitude, methods, and influencers of RWL in professional and amateur MMA athletes. MMA athletes (N = 314; 287 men and 27 women) across nine weight categories (strawweight to heavyweight), completed a validated questionnaire adapted for this sport. Sex-specific data were analyzed, and subgroup comparisons were made between athletes competing at professional and amateur levels. Most athletes purposefully reduced body weight for competition (men: 97.2%; women: 100%). The magnitude of RWL in 1 week prior to weigh-in was significantly greater for professional athletes compared with those competing at amateur level (men: 5.9% vs. 4.2%; women: 5.0% vs. 2.1% of body weight; p < .05). In the 24 hr preceding weigh-in, the magnitude of RWL was greater at professional than amateur level in men (3.7% vs. 2.5% of body weight; p < .05). Most athletes “always” or “sometimes” used water loading (72.9%), restricting fluid intake (71.3%), and sweat suits (55.4%) for RWL. Coaches were cited as the primary source of influence on RWL practices (men: 29.3%; women: 48.1%). There is a high reported prevalence of RWL in MMA, at professional and amateur levels. Our findings, constituting the largest inquiry to date, call for urgent action from MMA organizations to safeguard the health and well-being of athletes competing in this sport.

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Charles Macaulay, Joseph Cooper and Shaun Dougherty

There are two cultural narratives often purported within the American sports cultures of basketball and football. First, those participating within these sports are African American athletes from poor communities lacking educational and economic opportunities. Second, the meritocratic myth perpetuating American society feeds the notion no matter where an individual is from their talent will elevate them to the next level. There have already been a few studies who have challenged these myths. This study seeks to continue the conversation by collecting community data on 7,670 high school football recruits for the years 2000 to 2016. This study seeks to provide a broad overview of the interscholastic football landscape as well as determine production levels of schools. This study finds that while players are recruited from a diverse range of communities and school types, as a school becomes more productive they tend to be located within wealthier urban communities, have a diverse student body, and have a higher likelihood of being a private school.

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Kunal Bhanot, Navpreet Kaur, Lori Thein Brody, Jennifer Bridges, David C. Berry and Joshua J. Ode

Context: Dynamic balance is a measure of core stability. Deficits in the dynamic balance have been related to injuries in the athletic populations. The Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) is suggested to measure and improve dynamic balance when used as a rehabilitative tool. Objective: To determine the electromyographic activity of the hip and the trunk muscles during the SEBT. Design: Descriptive. Setting: University campus. Participants: Twenty-two healthy adults (11 males and 11 females; 23.3 [3.8] y, 170.3 [7.6] cm, 67.8 [10.3] kg, and 15.1% [5.0%] body fat). Intervention: Surface electromyographic data were collected on 22 healthy adults of the erector spinae, external oblique, and rectus abdominis bilaterally, and gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscle of the stance leg. A 2-way repeated measures analysis of variance was used to determine the interaction between the percentage maximal voluntary isometric contraction (%MVIC) and the reach directions. The %MVIC for each muscle was compared across the 8 reach directions using the Sidak post hoc test with α at .05. Main Outcome Measures: %MVIC. Results: Significant differences were observed for all the 8 muscles. Highest electromyographic activity was found for the tested muscles in the following reach directions—ipsilateral external oblique (44.5% [38.4%]): anterolateral; contralateral external oblique (52.3% [40.8%]): medial; ipsilateral rectus abdominis (8% [6.6%]): anterior; contralateral rectus abdominis (8% [5.3%]): anteromedial; ipsilateral erector spinae (46.4% [20.2%]): posterolateral; contralateral erector spinae (33.5% [11.3%]): posteromedial; gluteus maximus (27.4% [11.7%]): posterior; and gluteus medius (54.6% [26.1%]): medial direction. Conclusions: Trunk and hip muscle activation was direction dependent during the SEBT. This information can be used during rehabilitation of the hip and the trunk muscles.

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Manuel D. Quinones and Peter W.R. Lemon

Hydrothermally modified non-genetically modified organisms corn starch (HMS) ingestion may enhance endurance exercise performance via sparing carbohydrate oxidation. To determine whether similar effects occur with high-intensity intermittent exercise, we investigated the effects of HMS ingestion prior to and at halftime on soccer skill performance and repeated sprint ability during the later stages of a simulated soccer match. In total, 11 male university varsity soccer players (height = 177.7 ± 6.8 cm, body mass = 77.3 ± 7.9 kg, age = 22 ± 3 years, body fat = 12.8 ± 4.9%, and maximal oxygen uptake = 57.1 ± 3.9 ml·kg BM−1·min−1) completed the match with HMS (8% carbohydrate containing a total of 0.7 g·kg BM−1·hr−1; 2.8 kcal·kg BM−1·hr−1) or isoenergetic dextrose. Blood glucose was lower (p < .001) with HMS at 15 min (5.3 vs. 7.7 mmol/L) and 30 min (5.6 vs. 8.3 mmol/L) following ingestion, there were no treatment differences in blood lactate, and the respiratory exchange ratio was lower with HMS at 15 min (0.84 vs. 0.86, p = .003); 30 min (0.83 vs. 0.85, p = .004); and 45 min (0.83 vs. 0.85, p = .007) of the first half. Repeated sprint performance was similar for both treatments (p > .05). Soccer dribbling time was slower with isoenergetic dextrose versus baseline (15.63 vs. 14.43 s, p < .05) but not so with HMS (15.04 vs. 14.43 s, p > .05). Furthermore, during the passing test, penalty time was reduced (4.27 vs. 7.73 s, p = .004) with HMS. During situations where glycogen availability is expected to become limiting, HMS ingestion prematch and at halftime could attenuate the decline in skill performance often seen late in contests.