Jan 29, 2015Bulletin Board
Finding the Right Altitude
Elite endurance athletes often adhere to the “live high, train low” principle, believing changes the body undergoes at higher altitudes to adapt to getting less oxygen will result in better training and performances at lower altitudes. However, a recent study, published online in October before appearing in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found the benefits of such an approach may be limited to living within a certain range of altitudes. Researchers began by observing and collecting baseline measurements on 3,000-meter time and VO2 max for 48 collegiate cross country and track runners as they trained together for four weeks in Dallas, which sits about 130 meters above sea level. The athletes then lived at one of four camps in Utah for four weeks, located at altitudes ranging from 1,780 to 2,800 meters. The runners gathered once a day to train together at sites from 1,245 to 3,000 meters in altitude.
At the completion of their time in Utah, the athletes returned to Dallas where they were re-tested. The results showed that the runners who lived at the camps at the two middle altitudes–2,100 and 2,500 meters (roughly 6,890 to 8,200 feet)–saw significant improvement (roughly two to three percent) in their 3,000-meter times, while there was no significant change in runners who lived at the highest and lowest camps.
In their report, the researchers explained that the lowest level (1,780 meters) might not have been high enough to produce performance benefits. They had several theories on why the performance of athletes at the highest altitude (2,800 meters) did not improve, which included the fact that the respiratory system undergoes greater changes at higher altitudes, possible problems with lower oxygen saturation levels during sleep, and mild acute mountain sickness.
An abstract for the study can be found by searching the title, “Defining the ‘Dose’ of Altitude Training: How High to Live for Optimal Sea Level Performance Enhancement,” at: jap.physiology.org.
A new MRI technique may give healthcare professionals a better way to diagnose wrist injuries. Researchers from the University of California, Davis have developed a protocol they call “active-MRI” that evaluates a patient’s wrist during continuous motion, without exposing that person to the radiation associated with dynamic computed tomography and fluoroscopy.
The researchers asked 10 subjects with healthy wrists to perform separate range-of-motion movements including supination/pronation, radial/ulnar deviation, dynamic clenched fist maneuver in neutral position and in ulnar deviation, and volarflexion/dorsiflexion for 35 seconds each while their wrists were being scanned. Using a positioning harness for the wrist to control the motion and dielectric pads to reduce banding that can obscure the results, the researchers captured 60 images during each movement. Two physicians were then able to use the images to measure distal radioulnar joint congruity; extensor carpi ulnaris tendon translation; the scapholunate (SL) interval; and the SL, radiolunate and capitolunate angles, which can be used to evaluate dynamic wrist instability.
Robert Boutin, MD, Professor of Clinical Radiology at UC-Davis and leader of the study, told OrthopedicsToday.com that the new technique could be especially helpful when symptoms occur only during movement. “We think active-MRI will be a valuable tool in augmenting traditional, static MRI tests,” he said. “Patients can reproduce the motion that is bothering them while they are inside the scanner, and physicians can assess how the wrist is actually working.”
The peer-reviewed study, posted on the open source online journal PLOS ONE, was meant as a proof of concept. The report states that more research is needed to establish the usefulness of active-MRI in patients with dynamic wrist instability.
The full text of the study can be found by typing its title, “Real-Time Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) during Active Wrist Motion–Initial Observations,” into the search window at: www.plosone.org.
Tree Bark May Improve Recovery
Muscle cramping and soreness can be a significant hindrance to training. According to research published in the December 2013 issue of The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Pycnogenol, an antioxidant made from pine tree bark, may help control the oxidative stress that can hinder the repair of muscle damage.
The two-part clinical trial began with 147 recreational athletes being evaluated on the number of sit-ups and push-ups they could complete in two minutes and their time in a two-mile run. Seventy-four of these athletes–38 men and 36 women–were asked to take 100 mg of Pycnogenol daily, while the remaining 73 athletes made up the placebo group. After eight weeks, the athletes who took the antioxidant saw their run times drop by an average of two minutes, while their push-up and sit-up endurance increased by an average of 25 and 15 percent, respectively.
The second part of the trial examined 54 male triathletes over a 30-day period. Thirty-two of the athletes ingested 150 mg of Pycnogenol each day, while 22 athletes comprised the placebo group. The group that took the antioxidant saw its average sprint triathlon (.47-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride, 5-kilometer run) time drop by roughly 11 minutes and their muscular cramping and post-running pain was also reduced.
To view an abstract of the study, search the title, “Evaluation of the Effects of Supplementation with Pycnogenol on Fitness in Normal Subjects with the Army Physical Fitness Test and in Performances of Athletes in the 100-minute Triathlon,” at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
College football strength coaches are used to spending their days working with large beings. However, when Florida Institute of Technology Director of Strength and Conditioning Ethan Tyler, MS, CSCS, arrived at work one April day last year, he had no idea he would end up helping to save the life of a 745-pound manatee. The scenario unfolded after Florida Tech Head Volleyball Coach Amy O’Brien saw the injured animal while jogging at a local park. The manatee was thrashing about in shallow water so she called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Officials from FWC quickly arrived on the scene ready to transport the manatee to a rehabilitation facility. However, they needed more muscle to lift the massive animal out of the water. So O’Brien phoned the Florida Tech football office, and within minutes, Tyler and four assistant football coaches were at the park ready to help with the extraction. The group slid a tarp underneath the manatee and with four people on each side, hoisted it out of the water and onto a waiting truck. “Basically,” says Tyler, “it took eight people to deadlift a manatee.” Nicknamed “Manny” by the Florida Tech coaches, the manatee spent the ensuing eight months rehabbing at SeaWorld, where it gained 110 pounds and underwent treatment to heal deep abscesses on its body likely caused by a collision with a watercraft. Then, last December, Tyler and his fellow rescuers received a call: Manny was ready to return to the wild, and the FWC wondered if the coaches would like to help with the relocation effort. They quickly said yes, and with the help of a few other volunteers, Tyler and his colleagues lowered the manatee into Melbourne’s Indian River Lagoon and watched her swim away. “It felt really good to help that animal get a second chance at life,” Tyler says. “I’m glad I was a part of the experience.