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Scott R. Brown, Matt Brughelli and Lee A. Bridgeman

Context:

Muscle imbalances aid in the identification of athletes at risk for lower-extremity injury. Little is known regarding the influence that leg preference or playing position may have on lower-extremity muscle strength and asymmetry.

Purpose:

To investigate lower-extremity strength profiles in rugby union athletes and compare isokinetic knee- and hip-strength variables between legs and positions.

Methods:

Thirty male academy rugby union athletes, separated into forwards (n = 15) and backs (n = 15), participated in this cross-sectional analysis. Isokinetic dynamometry was used to evaluate peak torque, angle of peak torque, and strength ratios of the preferred and nonpreferred legs during seated knee extension/flexion and supine hip extension/flexion at 60°/s.

Results:

Backs were older (ES = 1.6) but smaller in stature (ES = –0.47) and body mass (ES = –1.3) than the forwards. The nonpreferred leg was weaker than the preferred leg for forwards during extension (ES = –0.37) and flexion (ES = –0.21) actions and for backs during extension (ES = –0.28) actions. Backs were weaker at the knee than forwards in the preferred leg during extension (ES = –0.50) and flexion (ES = –0.66) actions. No differences were observed in strength ratios between legs or positions. Backs produced peak torque at longer muscle lengths in both legs at the knee (ES = –0.93 to –0.94) and hip (ES = –0.84 to –1.17) than the forwards.

Conclusions:

In this sample of male academy rugby union athletes, the preferred leg and forwards displayed superior strength compared with the nonpreferred leg and backs. These findings highlight the importance of individualized athletic assessments to detect crucial strength differences in male rugby union athletes.

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Oliver Gonzalo-Skok, Julio Tous-Fajardo, Luis Suarez-Arrones, José Luis Arjol-Serrano, José Antonio Casajús and Alberto Mendez-Villanueva

Purpose:

To compare the effects of unilateral and bilateral resistance training on single-leg power output, between-limbs imbalance (BLI), bilateral deficit (BLD), change of direction (COD), and linear sprinting and jumping performance in young elite basketball players.

Methods:

Twenty-two young (U-16–U-19) male basketball players were randomly assigned either to an exclusive unilateral (UNI) (n = 11) or a bilateral (BIL) (n = 11) resistance-training group during a 6-wk period. Both groups training consisted of 3 unilateral or bilateral 90° back-squat sets. A postdetermined number of repetitions was set until power output dropped to <10% of maximum power (MP) output. In addition, both groups performed 2 sets of 5 unilateral or bilateral drop jumps and 2 sets of 5 unilateral or bilateral countermovement jumps (CMJ). Pre- and posttraining, performance was assessed by an incremental bilateral and unilateral squat-load test, a multiple-COD test (V-cut test), a 15-m-sprint test (7.5 + 7.5 m) with one 180° COD performed with both right (180° RCOD) and left (180° LCOD) legs, a 25-m-sprint test (5- and 15-m split time), and a CMJ test.

Results:

Within-group analyses showed substantial improvements in 180° RCOD, bilateral and unilateral MP, 25-m-sprint test, and CMJ in both groups. Between-groups analyses showed substantially better results in 180° LCOD, MP with right and left legs, BLI, and BLD in UNI than in BIL.

Conclusions:

Both training programs substantially improved most of the physical-fitness tests, but only UNI reduced between-limbs asymmetry and achieved greater enhancements in actions that mostly required applying force unilaterally in basketball players.

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Thomas Dos’Santos, Christopher Thomas, Paul A. Jones and Paul Comfort

Purpose:

To investigate the within-session reliability of bilateral- and unilateral-stance isometric midthigh-pull (IMTP) force–time characteristics including peak force (PF), relative PF, and impulse at time bands (0–100, 0–200, 0–250, and 0–300 milliseconds) and to compare isometric force–time characteristics between right and left and dominant (D) and nondominant (ND) limbs.

Methods:

Professional male rugby league and multisport male college athletes (N = 54; age, 23.4 ± 4.2 y; height, 1.80 ± 0.05 m; mass, 88.9 ± 12.9 kg) performed 3 bilateral IMTP trials and 6 unilateral-stance IMTP trials (3 per leg) on a force plate sampling at 600 Hz.

Results:

Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) and coefficients of variation (CVs) demonstrated high within-session reliability for bilateral and unilateral IMTP PF (ICC = .94, CV = 4.7–5.5%). Lower reliability measures and greater variability were observed for bilateral and unilateral IMTP impulse at time bands (ICC = .81–.88, CV = 7.7–11.8%). Paired-sample t tests and Cohen d effect sizes revealed no significant differences for all isometric force–time characteristics between right and left limbs in male college athletes (P >.05, d ≤ 0.32) and professional rugby league players (P > .05, d ≤ 0.11); however, significant differences were found between D and ND limbs in male college athletes (P < .001, d = 0.43–0.91) and professional rugby league players (P < .001, d = 0.27–0.46).

Conclusion:

This study demonstrated high within-session reliability for unilateral-stance IMTP PF, revealing significant differences in isometric force–time characteristics between D and ND limbs in male athletes.

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Rahel Gilgen-Ammann, Wolfgang Taube and Thomas Wyss

Purpose:

To quantify gait asymmetry in well-trained runners with and without previous injuries during interval training sessions incorporating different distances.

Methods:

Twelve well-trained runners participated in 8 high-intensity interval-training sessions on a synthetic track over a 4-wk period. The training consisted of 10 × 400, 8 × 600, 7 × 800, and 6 × 1000-m running. Using an inertial measurement unit, the ground-contact time (GCT) of every step was recorded. To determine gait asymmetry, the GCTs between the left and right foot were compared.

Results:

Overall, gait asymmetry was 3.3% ± 1.4%, and over the course of a training session, the gait asymmetry did not change (F 1,33 = 1.673, P = .205). The gait asymmetry of the athletes with a previous history of injury was significantly greater than that of the athletes without a previous injury. However, this injury-related enlarged asymmetry was detectable only at short (400 m), but not at longer, distances (600–1000 m).

Conclusion:

The gait asymmetry of well-trained athletes differed, depending on their history of injury and the running distance. To detect gait asymmetries, high-intensity runs over relatively short distances are recommended.

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Ramón Marcote-Pequeño, Amador García-Ramos, Víctor Cuadrado-Peñafiel, Jorge M. González-Hernández, Miguel Ángel Gómez and Pedro Jiménez-Reyes

Interestingly, it has been shown that for each individual there exists an optimal combination of F 0 and V 0 (ie, FV slope) that allows to maximize ballistic performance for a same value of P max 19 , 20 and, consequently, specific training programs can be prescribed to reduce the FV imbalance. 13

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Petter Fagerberg

immunity ( Hagmar et al., 2008 ; Lancaster et al., 2005 ). Observational studies show that skeletal demineralization and hormonal imbalances are also prevalent among males, for example, male endurance athletes and athletes who strive for leanness ( Dolan et al., 2012 ; Guillaume et al., 2012 ; Hackney

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James O. Hill and Reneé Commerford

In this paper, we review the impact of physical activity on energy and maeronutrient balances. Stability of body weight and body composition depends on reaching a steady-state where the amount and composition of energy ingested are equal to the amount and composition of energy expended. We describe how a person's level of physical activity can have a significant impact on determining the level of body weight and body fatness at which that steady-state is reached. First, physical activity can directly affect both total energy intake and total energy expenditure. Physical activity can also affect fat balance, and it is becoming clear that imbalances in total energy are largely imbalances in fat. High levels of physical activity should help individuals reach fat and energy balances at lower levels of body fatness than would have been achieved at lower levels of physical activity.

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Lawrence E. Armstrong

Recreational enthusiasts and athletes often are advised to abstain from consuming caffeinated beverages (CB). The dual purposes of this review are to (a) critique controlled investigations regarding the effects of caffeine on dehydration and exercise performance, and (b) ascertain whether abstaining from CB is scientifically and physiologically justifiable. The literature indicates that caffeine consumption stimulates a mild diuresis similar to water, but there is no evidence of a fluid-electrolyte imbalance that is detrimental to exercise performance or health. Investigations comparing caffeine (100-680 mg) to water or placebo seldom found a statistical difference in urine volume. In the 10 studies reviewed, consumption of a CB resulted in 0-84% retention of the initial volume ingested, whereas consumption of water resulted in 0-81% retention. Further, tolerance to caffeine reduces the likelihood that a detrimental fluid-electrolyte imbalance will occur. The scientific literature suggests that athletes and recreational enthusiasts will not incur detrimental fluid-electrolyte imbalances if they consume CB in moderation and eat a typical U.S. diet. Sedentary members of the general public should be at less risk than athletes because their fluid losses via sweating are smaller.

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Leonard S. Jefferson and Scot R. Kimball

Gain or loss of skeletal muscle mass is due largely to the establishment of an imbalance between rates of protein synthesis and degradation. A key determinant of the rate of protein synthesis is translation initiation, a process regulated in part through binding of initiator methionyl-tRNA (met-tRNAi) and messenger RNA (mRNA) to a 40S ribosomal subunit. Either the met-tRNAi or mRNA binding step can become limiting for protein synthesis. Furthermore, the mRNA binding step can modulate translation of specific mRNAs with or without changes in the overall rate of protein synthesis. This report highlights molecular mechanisms involved in mediating control of the mRNA binding step in translation initiation. Particular attention is given to the effect of exercise on this step and to how the branched-chain amino acid leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis after exercise. Potential mechanisms for exercise induced increase in muscle mass are discussed.

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Yoram Epstein and Lawrence E. Armstrong

Body water and electrolyte balance are essential to optimal physiological function and health. During exercise, work, or high temperatures, a significant level of dehydration can develop, and the ratio of extracellular to intracellular fluid can change, despite an ample supply of water. Physical and cognitive performance are impaired at 1-2% dehydration, and the body can collapse when water loss approaches 7%. Because fluid needs and intakes vary, formulating one general guideline for fluid replacement is difficult. Knowing the amount of water lost in sweat may enable predicting fluid needs via mathematical models for industrial, athletic, and military scenarios. Sodium imbalance might result from excessive Na+ loss or from gross o verity dration. In most work or exercise lasting < 3-4 hr, the major concern is that fluid be available to prevent heat-related illnesses, which can be prevented if fluid and electrolyte losses are balanced with intake, using the recommendations presented.