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Shona L. Halson

An increase in research investigating recovery strategies has occurred alongside the increase in usage of recovery by elite athletes. Because there is inconsistent evidence regarding the benefits of recovery on performance, it is necessary to examine research design to identify possible strategies that enhance performance in different athlete settings. The purpose of this review is to examine available recovery literature specifically related to the time frame between performance assessments to identify considerations for both research design and practical use of recovery techniques.

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Shona L. Halson and Michele Lastella

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Jonathon Weakley, Shona L. Halson, and Iñigo Mujika

Context: To understand overtraining syndrome (OTS), it is important to detail the physiological and psychological changes that occur in athletes. Objectives: To systematically establish and detail the physiological and psychological changes that occur as a result of OTS in athletes. Methods: Databases were searched for studies that were (1) original investigations; (2) English, full-text articles; (3) published in peer-reviewed journals; (4) investigations into adult humans and provided (5) objective evidence that detailed changes in performance from prior to the onset of OTS diagnosis and that performance was suppressed for more than 4 weeks and (6) objective evidence of psychological symptoms. Results: Zero studies provided objective evidence of detailed changes in performance from prior to the onset of OTS diagnosis and demonstrated suppressed performance for more than 4 weeks accompanied by changes in psychological symptoms. Conclusions: All studies failed to provide evidence of changes in performance and mood from “healthy” to an overtrained state with evidence of prolonged suppression of performance. While OTS may be observed in the field, little data is available describing how physiological and psychological symptoms manifest. This stems from vague terminology, difficulties in monitoring for prolonged periods of time, and the need for prospective testing. Real-world settings may facilitate the collection of such data, but the ideal testing battery that can easily be conducted on a regular basis does not yet exist. Consequently, it must be concluded that an evidence base of sufficient scientific quality for understanding OTS in athletes is lacking.

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Shona L. Halson and David T. Martin

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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.

Open access

Shona L. Halson and David T. Martin

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Laura E. Juliff, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, and Shona L. Halson

Context: Night games are a regular occurrence for team-sport athletes, yet sleep complaints following night competitions are common. The mechanisms responsible for reported sleep difficulty in athletes are not understood. Methods: An observational crossover design investigating a night netball game and a time-matched rest day in 12 netball athletes was conducted to ascertain differences in physiological (core temperature), psychometric (state and trait), and neuroendocrine (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol) responses. Results: Following the night game, athletes experienced reduced sleep durations, lower sleep efficiency, early awakenings, and poorer subjective sleep ratings compared with the rest day. No differences were found between core temperature, state psychometric measures, and cortisol at bedtime. Adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were elevated compared with the time-matched rest day prior to (26.92 [15.88] vs 12.90 [5.71] and 232.6 [148.1] vs 97.83 [36.43] nmol/L, respectively) and following the night game (18.67 [13.26] vs 11.92 [4.56] and 234.1 [137.2] vs 88.58 [54.08] nmol/L, respectively); however, the concentrations did not correlate to the sleep variables (duration, efficiency, and sleep-onset latency). A correlation (r s = −.611) between sleep efficiency and hyperarousal (trait psychometric measure) was found. Conclusions: Athletes experienced poor sleep following a night game. Furthermore, results suggest that athletes who have a tendency toward a high trait arousal may be more susceptible to sleep complaints following a night game. These data expand knowledge and refute frequently hypothesized explanations for poor sleep following night competition. The results may also help support staff and coaches target strategies for individual athletes at a higher risk of sleep complaints.

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Nathan G. Versey, Shona L. Halson, and Brian T. Dawson

Purpose:

To investigate whether contrast water therapy (CWT) assists acute recovery from high-intensity running and whether a dose-response relationship exists.

Methods:

Ten trained male runners completed 4 trials, each commencing with a 3000-m time trial, followed by 8 × 400-m intervals with 1 min of recovery. Ten minutes postexercise, participants performed 1 of 4 recovery protocols: CWT, by alternating 1 min hot (38°C) and 1 min cold (15°C) for 6 (CWT6), 12 (CWT12), or 18 min (CWT18), or a seated rest control trial. The 3000-m time trial was repeated 2 h later.

Results:

3000-m performance slowed from 632 ± 4 to 647 ± 4 s in control, 631 ± 4 to 642 ± 4 s in CWT6, 633 ± 4 to 648 ± 4 s in CWT12, and 631 ± 4 to 647 ± 4 s in CWT18. Following CWT6, performance (smallest worthwhile change of 0.3%) was substantially faster than control (87% probability, 0.8 ± 0.8% mean ± 90% confidence limit), however, there was no effect for CWT12 (34%, 0.0 ± 1.0%) or CWT18 (34%, –0.1 ± 0.8%). There were no substantial differences between conditions in exercise heart rates, or postexercise calf and thigh girths. Algometer thigh pain threshold during CWT12 was higher at all time points compared with control. Subjective measures of thermal sensation and muscle soreness were lower in all CWT conditions at some post-water-immersion time points compared with control; however, there were no consistent differences in whole body fatigue following CWT.

Conclusions:

Contrast water therapy for 6 min assisted acute recovery from high-intensity running; however, CWT duration did not have a dose-response effect on recovery of running performance.

Open access

Shona L. Halson, Alan G. Hahn, and Aaron J. Coutts