Sep 20, 2018
Different Tests
Lindsay Langford

To evaluate athletes’ sweat at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, Ind., we use the regional absorbent patch method to collect sweat and ion chromatography to analyze it. Here are the steps involved in this procedure:

• Clean each site the patch will be placed on with alcohol and deionized water and dry it with a sterile, electrolyte-free gauze pad.

• Place patch on the site(s) chosen.

• Allow the athlete to train for 20 to 30 minutes or just enough for the patch to collect some sweat without becoming fully saturated.

• Pull the patch off with sterile tweezers and place it in a 10 milliliter (mL) syringe.

• Squeeze the syringe to extract sweat into a one mL vial.

• Send the vials of sweat to a lab to be analyzed.

However, there are numerous other options available for sweat testing. For one, if you don’t have access to ion chromatography, you can use a portable ion-selective electrode. This has been found to be a reliable and effective tool in the field.

Another testing method requires a post-activity, full-body, wash-down technique, followed by laboratory-based chromatography electrolyte analysis. This is likely the most accurate test. But it’s also the most impractical because it can only be conducted in a lab.

Other methods include using pilocarpine iontophoresis to induce sweat during a rested state and then collecting a sample on the forearm with a macroduct sweat collection device. Lastly, there are patches in production to provide real-time sweat analysis measurements using Bluetooth technology.

I’m sure there will be more options to consider in the future. As sweat testing becomes more mainstream, the research is quickly evolving to keep up.

This article appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Training & Conditioning.

Image by U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Josie Walck.

Lindsay Langford, MS, RD, CSSD, is a Sports Dietitian with St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, Ind. She can be reached at: [email protected].

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