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Matthew W. Driller and Shona L. Halson

Purpose:

Compression garments have been commonly used in a medical setting as a method to promote blood flow. Increases in blood flow during exercise may aid in the delivery of oxygen to the exercising muscles and, subsequently, enhance performance. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of wearing lower body compression garments during a cycling test.

Methods:

Twelve highly trained cyclists (mean ± SD age 30 ± 6 y, mass 75.6 ± 5.8 kg, VO2peak 66.6 ± 3.4 mL · kg−1 · min−1) performed two 30-min cycling bouts on a cycle ergometer in a randomized, crossover design. During exercise, either full-length lower body compression garments (COMP) or above-knee cycling shorts (CON) were worn. Cycling bouts involved 15 min at a fixed workload (70% of VO2max power) followed by a 15-min time trial. Heart rate (HR) and blood lactate (BL) were measured during the fixed-intensity component of the cycling bout to determine the physiological effect of the garments. Calf girth (CG), thigh girth (TG) and perceived soreness (PS) were measured preexercise and postexercise.

Results:

COMP produced a trivial effect on mean power output (ES = .14) compared with CON (mean ± 95% CI 1.3 ±1.0). COMP was also associated with a lower HR during the fixed-workload section of the test (−2.6% ± 2.3%, ES = −.38). There were no differences between groups for BL, CG, TG, and PS.

Conclusion:

Wearing compression garments during cycling may result in trivial performance improvements of ~1% and may enhance oxygen delivery to the exercising muscles.

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Ryan G. Overmayer and Matthew W. Driller

Purpose: To examine the efficacy of intermittent sequential pneumatic compression (ISPC) on exercise recovery and subsequent performance, when implemented between a 20-min cycling bout (simulated scratch race) and a 4-min cycling test (simulated individual pursuit), as experienced during an Omnium track cycling competition. Methods: Twenty-one (13 male and 8 female, mean [SD]: age = 36 [14] y) trained cyclists completed a familiarization trial followed by 2 experimental trials in a counterbalanced, cross-over design. Participants performed a fixed-intensity 20-min cycling bout on a Wattbike cycle ergometer, followed by a 30-min recovery period where ISPC recovery boots or passive recovery was implemented. At the conclusion of the recovery period, participants performed a 4-min maximal cycling bout (4-min time trial [TT]). Average power (watts) for the 4-min TT, blood lactate concentration, and perceived total quality recovery (TQR) during the recovery period were used to examine the influence of ISPC. Results: There were no significant differences between trials for the 4-min TT (P = .08), with the effect deemed to be trivial (d = −0.08). There was an unclear effect (d [±90% confidence interval] = 0.26 [±0.78], P = .57) for ISPC vs passive recovery in the clearance of blood lactate during the recovery period. There was a small but not significant difference for perceived TQR in favor of ISPC (d [±90% confidence interval] = 0.27 [±0.27], P = .07). Conclusion: There was little additional benefit associated with the use of ISPC to enhance recovery and subsequent performance when used during the recovery period between 2 events in a simulated Omnium track cycling competition.

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Matthew W. Driller, Christos K. Argus and Cecilia M. Shing

Purpose:

To determine the reliability of a 30-s sprint cycle test on the Wattbike cycle ergometer.

Methods:

Over 3 consecutive weeks, 11 highly trained cyclists (mean ± SD; age 31 ± 6 y, mass 74.6 ± 10.6 kg, height 180.5 ± 8.1cm) completed four 30-s maximal sprints on a Wattbike ergometer after a standardized warmup. The sprint test implemented a “rolling start” that consisted of a 60-s preload (at an intensity of 4.5 W/kg) before the 30-s maximal sprint. Variables determined across the duration of the sprint were peak power (Wpeak), mean power (Wmean), W/kg, mean cadence (rpm), maximum heart rate (n = 10), and postexercise blood lactate.

Results:

The average intraclass correlation coefficients between trials (2v1, 3v2, 4v3, 4v1) were Wpeak .97 (90%CI .94–.99), Wmean .99 (90%CI .97–1.00), W/kg .96 (90%CI .91–.98), mean cadence .96 (90%CI .92–.99), maximum heart rate .99 (90%CI .97–.99), and postexercise blood lactate .94 (90%CI .87–.98). The average typical error of measurement (expressed as a CV% and absolute value between trials—2v1, 3v2, 4v3, 4v1) was Wpeak 4.9%, 52.7 W; Wmean 2.4%, 19.2 W; W/kg 2.3%, 0.18 W/kg; mean cadence 1.4%, 1.6 rpm; maximum heart rate 0.9%, 1.6 beats/min; and postexercise blood lactate 4.6%, 0.48 mmol/L.

Conclusion:

A 30-s sprint test on the Wattbike cycle ergometer is highly reproducible in trained cyclists.

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Shannon O’Donnell, Christopher M. Beaven and Matthew Driller

Purpose: To assess the effect of match-day napping and duration of naps on perceptual and performance indices in elite female netball players over 2 consecutive netball seasons. Methods: A total of 14 elite female netball athletes (mean [SD]; age = 23 [6] y) participated in an observational study over 26 competition matches. On each match day, athletes provided information on their napping habits and perceived energy levels, then performed 3 countermovement jumps 3 h:30 min prior to the start of the match. One hour after the match, subjective player performance ratings from the players and 2 members of the coaching staff were obtained. Naps were characterized into 3 conditions for analysis: no nap (NN), <20-min nap (SHORT), and ≥20-min nap (LONG). Results: A significant difference in peak jump velocity was observed between the SHORT and the NN condition in favor of the shorter nap (3.23 [0.26] and 3.07 [0.36] m·s−1, respectively, d = 0.34, P < .05). A moderate, significant difference (d = 0.85; P < .05) was observed for the coach rating of performance (out of 10) between the SHORT and the NN condition (7.2 [0.8] and 6.4 [0.9], respectively) in favor of SHORT. Conclusions: The findings from the study would suggest that a short nap (<20 min) on the day of competition can enhance jump velocity and improve subjective performance in elite netball players, as assessed by coaching staff.

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Nattai Borges, Peter Reaburn, Matthew Driller and Christos Argus

Despite increasing participation rates in masters sport and extensive research examining age-related changes in performance, little is known about the effect of age on recovery kinetics in masters athletes. This narrative review focuses on the relationship between aging and sport participation, and the effect on both performance and recovery following an exercise bout. Current research suggests the effect of age on performance and recovery may be smaller than originally suggested and that increasing sedentary lifestyles appear to play a larger role in any observed decrements in performance and recovery in masters athletes. Currently, it appears that performance decrements are inevitable with age. However, performance capacities can be maintained through systematic physical training. Moreover, the limited current research suggests there may be an age effect on recovery kinetics following an exercise bout, although further research is required to understand the acute and chronic recovery processes in the masters athlete.

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Blair Mills, Brad Mayo, Francisco Tavares and Matthew Driller

Context: Given the relatively novel technique of tissue flossing is currently lacking in the research literature despite some positive findings in preliminary studies, the modality clearly requires further research. Current evidence suggests that band flossing results in performance improvements and may also be an effective method in injury prevention. Objective: Previous research has shown that tissue flossing may result in increased ankle range of motion, jump, and sprinting performance in recreational athletes. The present study aims to extend on this research, within an elite athlete sample. Design: Counterbalanced, cross-over design with experimental and control trials, separated by 1 week. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: Fourteen professional male rugby union athletes (mean [SD]: age 23.9 [2.7] y). Intervention: Application of a floss band to both ankles (FLOSS) for 2 minutes or without flossing of the ankle joints (CON) on 2 separate occasions. Main Outcome Measures: A weight-bearing lunge test, a countermovement jump test, and a 20-m sprint test at pre and at 5 and 30 minutes post application of the floss band or control. Results: There were no statistically significant interactions between treatment (FLOSS/CON) and time for any of the measured variables (P > .05). Effect size analysis revealed small benefits for FLOSS in comparison with CON for countermovement performance 5 minutes post (d = 0.28) and for 10-m (d = −0.45) and 15-m (d = −0.24) sprint time 30 minutes post. Conclusion: Findings from the current study suggest minimal benefits of tissue flossing when applied to the ankle joint in elite athletes for up to 30 minutes following their application.

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Matthew W. Driller, John R. Gregory, Andrew D. Williams and James W. Fell

Recent research has reported performance improvements after chronic NaHCO3 ingestion in conjunction with high-intensity interval training (HIT) in moderately trained athletes. The purpose of the current study was to determine the effects of altering plasma H+ concentration during HIT through NaHCO3 ingestion over 4 wk (2 HIT sessions/wk) in 12 Australian representative rowers (M ± SD; age 22 ± 3 yr, mass 76.4 ± 4.2 kg, VO2peak 65.50 ± 2.74 ml · kg−1 · min−1). Baseline testing included a 2,000-m time trial and an incremental exercise test. After baseline testing, rowers were allocated to either a chronic NaHCO3 (ALK) or placebo (PLA) group. Starting 90 min before each HIT session, subjects ingested a 0.3-g/kg body mass dose of NaHCO3 or a placebo substance. Fingertip blood samples were taken throughout the study to analyze bicarbonate and pH levels. The ALK group did not produce any additional improvements in 2,000-m rowing performance time compared with PLA (p > .05). Magnitude-based inferential analysis indicated an unclear or trivial effect on 2,000-m power, 2,000-m time, peak power output, and power at 4 mmol/L lactate threshold in the ALK group compared with the PLA group. Although there was no difference between groups, during the study there was a significant mean (± SD) 2,000-m power improvement in both the ALK and PLA groups of 17.8 ± 14.5 and 15.2 ± 18.3 W, respectively. In conclusion, despite overall improvements in rowing performance after 4 wk of HIT, the addition of chronic NaHCO3 supplementation during the training period did not significantly enhance performance further.

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Ned Brophy-Williams, Matthew W. Driller, Cecilia M. Kitic, James W. Fell and Shona L. Halson

Purpose:

To determine the effect of wearing compression socks between repeated running bouts on perceptual, physiological, and performance-based parameters.

Methods:

Twelve well-trained male runners (mean ± SD 5-km time 19:24 ± 1:19 [min:s]) recorded their perceptions of the efficacy of compression socks for recovery before completion of 2 experimental sessions. Each session consisted of two 5-km running time trials (TT1 and TT2) on a treadmill, with a 1-h recovery period between. In a randomized crossover design, 1 session required participants to wear compression socks during the recovery period, and no compression socks were worn between TTs in the other session (control).

Results:

Running performance between TT1 and TT2 for runners wearing compression socks was similar between TTs (mean Δ 5.3 ± 20.7 s, d = 0.07, P = .20), whereas for control runners, performance significantly decreased in the second TT (mean Δ 15.9 ± 13.3 s, d = 0.19, P < .01). When grouped by perception of efficacy for compression socks, participants with strong beliefs (n = 7) experienced improved subsequent running performance with compression socks (mean Δ –3.6 ± 19.2 s, d = 0.05, P = .32) compared with those with neutral or negative perceptions (n = 5; mean Δ 17.9 ± 17.0 s, d = 0.19, P = .04). Cross-sectional area of the calf and muscle soreness were significantly reduced during the recovery period with the use of compression socks (P < .01), whereas ratings of fatigue showed no difference between conditions.

Conclusions:

Wearing compression socks between repeated running bouts can aid recovery and subsequent performance. Furthermore, subsequent exercise performance may be even further enhanced when athletes believe in the efficacy of compression socks to assist in recovery between exercise bouts.

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Samuel T. Howe, Phillip M. Bellinger, Matthew W. Driller, Cecilia M. Shing and James W. Fell

Beta-alanine may benefit short-duration, high-intensity exercise performance. The aim of this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study was to examine the effects of beta-alanine supplementation on aspects of muscular performance in highly trained cyclists. Sixteen highly trained cyclists (mean ± SD; age = 24 ± 7 yr; mass = 70 ± 7kg; VO2max = 67 ± 4ml·kg−1·min–1) supplemented with either beta-alanine (n = 8, 65 mg·kg−1BM) or a placebo (n = 8; dextrose monohydrate) over 4 weeks. Pre- and postsupplementation cyclists performed a 4-minute maximal cycling test to measure average power and 30 reciprocal maximal isokinetic knee contractions at a fixed angular velocity of 180°·sec−1 to measure average power/repetition, total work done (TWD), and fatigue index (%). Blood pH, lactate (La) and bicarbonate (HCO3 -) concentrations were measured preand postisokinetic testing at baseline and following the supplementation period. Beta-alanine supplementation was 44% likely to increase average power output during the 4-minute cycling time trial when compared with the placebo, although this was not statistically significant (p = .25). Isokinetic average power/repetition was significantly increased post beta-alanine supplementation compared with placebo (beta-alanine: 6.8 ± 9.9W, placebo: –4.3 ± 9.5 W, p = .04, 85% likely benefit), while fatigue index was significantly reduced (p = .03, 95% likely benefit). TWD was 89% likely to be improved following beta-alanine supplementation; however, this was not statistically significant (p = .09). There were no significant differences in blood pH, lactate, and HCO3 between groups (p > .05). Four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation resulted in worthwhile changes in time-trial performance and short-duration muscular force production in highly trained cyclists.

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Christos K. Argus, Matthew W. Driller, Tammie R. Ebert, David T. Martin and Shona L. Halson

Purpose:

To evaluate the effectiveness of different recovery strategies on repeat cycling performance where a short duration between exercise bouts is required.

Methods:

Eleven highly trained cyclists (mean ± SD; age = 31 ± 6 y, mass = 74.6 ± 10.6 kg, height = 180.5 ± 8.1 cm) completed 4 trials each consisting of three 30-s maximal sprints (S1, S2, S3) on a cycle ergometer, separated by 20-min recovery periods. In a counterbalanced, crossover design, each trial involved subjects performing 1 of 4 recovery strategies: compression garments (COMP), electronic muscle stimulation (EMS), humidification therapy (HUM), and a passive control (CON). The sprint tests implemented a 60-s preload (at an intensity of 4.5 W/kg) before a 30-s maximal sprint. Mean power outputs (W) for the 3 sprints, in combination with perceived recovery and blood lactate concentration, were used to examine the effect of each recovery strategy.

Results:

In CON, S2 and S3 were (mean ± SD) –2.1% ± 3.9% and –3.1% ± 4.2% lower than S1, respectively. Compared with CON, COMP resulted in a higher mean power output from S1 to S2 (mean ± 90%CL: 0.8% ± 1.2%; possibly beneficial) and from S1 to S3 (1.2% ± 1.9%; possibly beneficial), while HUM showed a higher mean power output from S1 to S3 (2.2% ± 2.5%; likely beneficial) relative to CON.

Conclusion:

The authors suggest that both COMP and HUM may be effective strategies to enhance recovery between repeated sprint-cycling bouts separated by ~30 min.