Bulletin Board

January 29, 2015

Take Two, Stay Cool

Athletes who train in hot conditions are often in search of ways to "beat the heat" and exercise longer. One new answer may be as simple as taking a few pills of acetaminophen. Researchers in England have found that the drug helps athletes improve their time to exhaustion when exercising in the heat, possibly due to its ability to lower body, core, and skin temperature.

Accepted for publication in Experimental Physiology, the study was done by researchers from the University of Kent and the University of Bedfordshire. Eleven recreationally active subjects cycled to exhaustion on an ergometer in hot conditions (86 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent relative humidity), once after receiving acetaminophen and once after taking a placebo.

When given acetaminophen, the subjects showed a 17 percent increase in their average time to exhaustion--from just under 19 minutes to about 23 minutes. They also had lower core (-0.15 degrees Celsius), skin (-0.47 C), and body temperatures (-0.19 C) than when they received a placebo.

The results compared favorably with those produced by pre-cooling the body. "This improvement in exercise capacity is less than that achieved with the 'gold standard' external pre-cooling method of cold water immersion, where improvements in the region of 37 percent have been observed," the study's authors wrote. "However, when compared with the more logistically practical internal pre-cooling methods such as cold drink ingestion, ice slurry ingestion, and cold air inhalation, improvement in exercise capacity is similar."

However, the authors warned that the use of analgesics such as acetaminophen does carry some risks. "[We] do not condone the use of analgesics for ergogenic performance, as they can mask injury, cause gastrointestinal damage and, according to the present findings, may affect usual thermoregulatory working," they wote. "However, the quick, easy and practical administration of ACT may provide a useful and effective means of moderating [core temperature] during challenging occupational pursuits or in individuals suffering from exertional heat illness."

The full text of the study can be found by typing its title, "Acute acetaminophen (paracetamol) ingestion improves time to exhaustion during exercise in the heat," into the search window at: ep.physoc.org.


Balancing Act for ATCs

Maintaining work-life balance can be difficult for athletic trainers. A recent study revealed common themes in how female athletic trainers at the NCAA Division I level strive to keep this balance.

Twenty-seven female athletic trainers took part in the study, which appears in the September/October issue of Athletic Training & Sports Health Care. All were full-time employees working between 39 and 77 hours a week, 14 were unmarried, six were married, and seven were married with children. Nine worked primarily with women's basketball, seven with women's soccer, three with football, three with volleyball, and five were not assigned to a specific sport.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut collected data through online interviews featuring a series of open-ended questions. Four common strategies for achieving work-life balance emerged: establishing support systems at home and at work, prioritizing family time, setting boundaries between home and work, and exercise. Those who were married and/or had children found prioritization most effective, whereas single participants relied most heavily on exercise. Leaning on strong support systems was found to be the most common strategy, regardless of marital status.

Participants were also asked about their biggest challenges in finding balance. The three most-cited responses were travel and hours worked, lack of control over schedules, and communication difficulties with coaches.

Based on these findings, the study's authors advise female athletic trainers to maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives, encouraging them to take advantage of resources such as the support of co-workers. In addition, the authors believe formal policies regarding work-life balance are needed to help Division I schools retain female athletic trainers in the future.

To view an abstract of the study, "Factors and Strategies Contributing to the Work-Life Balance of Female Athletic Trainers Employed in the NCAA Division I Setting," visit: digitalcommons.uconn.edu/gs_theses/393/.


Later is Better for Creatine Use

Creatine users may be better off taking the supplement after a workout rather than before. A recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that creatine had a greater effect on strength and lean body mass in bodybuilders who used it post-workout compared to a group that took it pre-workout.

Researchers from Nova Southeastern University, led by Jose Antonio, PhD, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at the school, randomly assigned 19 bodybuilders to receive five grams of creatine monohydrate before or after their workouts for four weeks. They found the post-workout supplementation group increased their fat-free mass by an average of 2.0 kg compared to 0.9 kg in the pre-workout group. The post-workout group also averaged an increase of 7.6 kg in their one repetitive max bench press compared to a 6.6 kg average increase in the pre-workout group. Total body weight and fat mass were also measured, but no significant differences were found.

"The main findings of our creatine study indeed showed that timing can have an important effect on the adaptive response to exercise," Antonio told NutraIngredients-USA.com. "Whether this is important over the course of taking creatine for months or years isn't known. Nonetheless, this investigation adds to the growing body of evidence that when you eat or take supplements does critically affect lean body mass and exercise performance."

The full text of the study, titled "The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength," can be found at: www.jissn.com/content/10/1/36.


New Research on Pitching Risks

Two recent studies have shed new light on the risks of injury for baseball pitchers. Both published in Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, one study found no evidence to support the idea that throwing curveballs increases a pitcher's risk of injury compared to throwing fastballs. The second showed that players throwing from a mound versus flat ground had increased stress on their shoulders and elbows.

In the first study, researchers from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center and the Vanderbilt Bone and Joint Clinic conducted a literature review. Searching the Ovid MEDLINE database using the terms "curveball" and "baseball pitching injuries," they found 10 biomechanical and five epidemiologic studies published between 1979 and 2011. High school- and college-age pitchers were the subjects in 11 of the 15 studies.

While data from the biomechanical studies suggested increased activity of extensor and supinator muscles when curveballs were being thrown, a majority of the epidemiologic studies showed no significant association between pitching curveballs and upper extremity pain or injury. "Despite much debate in the baseball community about the curveball's safety in youth pitchers, limited biomechanical and most epidemiologic data do not indicate an increased risk of injury when compared with the fastball," the researchers wrote.

The second study was a collaboration between the Elite Sports Medicine Center and the Center for Motion Analysis at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center. Researchers analyzed the fastball pitching motions of 15 adolescent players throwing on flat ground as well as from a mound. The results showed a statistically significant increase in internal rotation of the shoulder and an inward movement of the elbow in pitchers throwing from the mound, which puts increased stress on the shoulder and elbow.

According to the researchers, the findings support the practice of having pitchers throw on flat ground when they start their season or return from injury before pitching from the mound. This could help athletic trainers devise better return-to-play protocols for these pitchers.

To view the abstracts of the studies, search their titles, "The Curveball as a Risk Factor for Injury: A Systematic Review" and "A Biomechanical Comparison of Pitching From a Mound Versus Flat Ground in Adolescent Baseball Pitchers," at: sph.sagepub.com.
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