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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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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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Shona L. Halson and David T. Martin

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Shona L. Halson and David T. Martin

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James R. Broatch, David J. Bishop, and Shona Halson

Purpose: Evidence supporting the use of lower-limb compression garments during repeated-sprint exercise (RSE) with short rest periods, where performance will rely heavily on aerobic metabolism, is lacking. Methods: A total of 20 recreationally active participants completed 2 cycling RSE sessions, with and without lower-limb compression tights. The RSE session consisted of 4 sets of 10 × 6-s maximal sprints on a wind-braked cycle ergometer, interspaced by 24 s of recovery between bouts and 2 min of recovery between sets. Muscle oxygen consumption (mV˙O2) of, and blood flow (mBF) to, the right vastus lateralis muscle was measured during exercise using near-infrared spectroscopy and venous/arterial occlusions of the right lower limb. Cycling performance, oxygen consumption (V˙O2), heart rate, and capillary blood samples (lactate, pH, bicarbonate, and base excess) were also measured/taken throughout the session. Results: Compared with control, peak power (40.7 [19.9] W; mean ± 95% confidence intervals) and mBF (0.101 [0.061] mL·min−1·100 g−1) were higher, and heart rate (2  [1] beats/min) was lower, when participants wore compression (P < .05). mV˙O2, V˙O2, blood lactate, and heart rate increased as a result of exercise (P < .05), with no differences between conditions. Similarly, blood pH, bicarbonate, and base excess decreased as a result of exercise (P < .05), with no difference between conditions. Conclusions: Wearing lower-limb compression tights during RSE with short intervals of rest improved cycling performance, vastus lateralis mBF, and heart rate. These results provide novel data to support the notion that lower-limb compression garments aid RSE performance, which may be related to local and/or central blood flow.

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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.

Open access

Shona L. Halson, Louise M. Burke, and Jeni Pearce

Domestic and international travel represents a regular challenge to high-performance track-and-field athletes, particularly when associated with the pressure of competition or the need to support specialized training (e.g., altitude or heat adaptation). Jet lag is a challenge for transmeridian travelers, while fatigue and alterations to gastrointestinal comfort are associated with many types of long-haul travel. Planning food and fluid intake that is appropriate to the travel itinerary may help to reduce problems. Resynchronization of the body clock is achieved principally through manipulation of zeitgebers, such as light exposure; more investigation of the effects of melatonin, caffeine, and the timing/composition of meals will allow clearer guidelines for their contribution to be prepared. At the destination, the athlete, the team management, and catering providers each play a role in achieving eating practices that support optimal performance and success in achieving the goals of the trip. Although the athlete is ultimately responsible for his or her nutrition plan, best practice by all parties will include pretrip consideration of risks around the quality, quantity, availability, and hygiene standards of the local food supply and the organization of strategies to deal with general travel nutrition challenges as well as issues that are specific to the area or the special needs of the group. Management of buffet-style eating, destination-appropriate protocols around food/water and personal hygiene, and arrangement of special food needs including access to appropriate nutritional support between the traditional “3 meals a day” schedule should be part of the checklist.

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Shona L Halson, Jonathan M. Peake, and John P. Sullivan