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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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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.

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Shona L. Halson and David T. Martin

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Charli Sargent, Michele Lastella, Shona L. Halson, and Gregory D. Roach

Purpose: Anecdotal reports indicate that many elite athletes are dissatisfied with their sleep, but little is known about their actual sleep requirements. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the self-assessed sleep need of elite athletes with an objective measure of their habitual sleep duration. Methods: Participants were 175 elite athletes (n = 30 females), age 22.2 (3.8) years (mean [SD]) from 12 individual and team sports. The athletes answered the question “how many hours of sleep do you need to feel rested?” and they kept a self-report sleep diary and wore a wrist activity monitor for ∼12 nights during a normal phase of training. For each athlete, a sleep deficit index was calculated by subtracting their average sleep duration from their self-assessed sleep need. Results: The athletes needed 8.3 (0.9) hours of sleep to feel rested, their average sleep duration was 6.7 (0.8) hours, and they had a sleep deficit index of 96.0 (60.6) minutes. Only 3% of athletes obtained enough sleep to satisfy their self-assessed sleep need, and 71% of athletes fell short by an hour or more. Specifically, habitual sleep duration was shorter in athletes from individual sports than in athletes from team sports (F1,173 = 13.1, P < .001; d = 0.6, medium), despite their similar sleep need (F1,173 = 1.40, P = .24; d = 0.2, small). Conclusions: The majority of elite athletes obtain substantially less than their self-assessed sleep need. This is a critical finding, given that insufficient sleep may compromise an athlete’s capacity to train effectively and/or compete optimally.

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

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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