Compression Garments Reduce Strength Loss After Training

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Regular training enhances your strength, but recovery is equally important. Elastic bandages and compression garments are widely used in sports to facilitate recovery and prevent injuries. Now, a research team from Tohoku University has determined that compression garments also reduce strength loss after strenuous exercise.

Their research findings were published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

The team – led by assistant professor János Négyesi and professor Ryoichi Nagatomi from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering – used a computerized dynamometer to train healthy subjects until they became fatigued. The same equipment was used to detect changes in the maximal strength and knee joint position sense straight after, 24 hours after and one week after the training.

The computerized dynamometer (Cybex, division of Lumex, Inc., Ron- konkoma, New York, USA) used for both data acquisition and training. ©János Négyesi

Their results revealed that using a below-knee compression garment during training compensates for fatigue effects on maximal strength immediately following the exercise and once 24 hours has elapsed. In other words, one can begin the next maximal intensity strength training earlier if one has used a below-knee compression garment in the previous workout.

Although compression garments reduce strength loss, their findings reaffirmed that they afford no protection against knee joint position sense errors.

“Our previous studies focused only on the effects of compression garments on joint position sense,” said Dr. Négyesi. “The present study found such garments to have the potential to reduce strength loss after a fatiguing exercise, which may help us better understand how applying a compression garment during exercise can decrease the risk of musculoskeletal injuries during sports activities.”

The researchers believe wearing a below-knee compression garment during regular workouts is beneficial because of the mechanical support and tissue compression it provides.

Looking ahead, the team aims to detect whether maximal intensity programs that last for weeks produce different outcomes than the current findings to determine the longitudinal effects of compression garments.

Publication Details:
Title: A below‐knee compression garment reduces fatigue‐induced strength loss but not knee joint position sense errors
Authors: János Négyesi, Li Yin Zhang, Rui Nian Jin, Tibor Hortobágyi, Ryoichi Nagatomi
Journal: European Journal of Applied Physiology
DOI: 10.1007/s00421-020-04507-1

A new playbook: COVID-19, athletes’ hearts and return to play

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BOSTON – Reports have indicated that COVID-19 may cause heart damage in hospitalized patients with severe cases of the disease, but it’s unclear whether cardiac injury also occurs in infected patients who are asymptomatic or experience only mild symptoms. This question is of particular concern for athletes because myocarditis–inflammation in the heart usually caused by a viral infection–can cause sudden cardiac death during exercise. In a special report published in JAMA Cardiology, a group led by sports cardiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Emory University School of Medicine offers guidance for athletes’ return to play after they have recovered from COVID-19.

The article addresses the most common questions posed by the media, in clinics and athletic training rooms, and during discussions among cardiologists who care for athletes. With a consideration of evolving data, it represents a reassessment of a previous consensus statement by the American College of Cardiology that was published in May.

“This new set of recommendations is based on my and my fellow authors’ clinical experience treating athletes with COVID-19 over the past few months. Our primary objective was to outline an approach that reduced unnecessary testing while simultaneously ensuring we use resources responsibly to detect athletes at increased risk of adverse cardiac events attributable to the virus during their return to sports,” said senior author Aaron Baggish, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at MGH.

Baggish and his colleagues have observed that athletes infected with COVID-19 who experienced no or mild symptoms did not exhibit signs of heart injury. For such athletes, they do not recommend detailed cardiac screening. The prevalence of cardiac injury in athletes who were infected with COVID-19 is still unknown, however, and the team believes it’s prudent to screen for heart damage in athletes with moderate to severe symptoms. The experts also note that despite recent small studies showing that cardiac magnetic resonance imaging has detected potential cardiac abnormalities in individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, they feel that current evidence doesn’t justify its use as a universal screening tool for athletes’ return to play.

“We hope the recommendations put forth in the document will assist practitioners in sports medicine, sports cardiology and general cardiology in the evaluation of athletes for return to play after COVID-19 infection,” said lead author Jonathan Kim, MD, MSc, chief of Cardiology Sports at Emory University School of Medicine. “These recommendations are intended to guide the process of determining who requires more detailed cardiac screening and ensure that all athletes post-COVID-19 infection should have a slow and gradual return to training with close monitoring of persistent symptoms, regardless of the severity of infection.”

The paper’s other authors were Benjamin D. Levine, MD, of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Dermot Phelan, MD, PhD, of the Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute, Atrium Health, Charlotte, North Carolina; Michael S. Emery, MD, MS, of the Sports Cardiology Center, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cleveland Clinic; Mathew W. Martinez, MD, of Morristown Medical Center, Atlantic Health System, Morristown, New Jersey; Eugene H. Chung, MD, MSc, of Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and Paul D. Thompson, MD of Hartford Hospital in Connecticut.

Menstrual dysfunction is more common among young athletes than among non-athletes

Young athletes experience more menstrual dysfunction than non-athletes do, according to a new Finnish study.

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Menstrual dysfunction is more prevalent in young Finnish athletes than it is among non-athletes of a similar age, but athletes experience less body weight dissatisfaction than non-athletes do. These findings are from a recent study at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The study was conducted among members of sports clubs who exercised at least four times a week (athletes) and non-members (non-athletes).

The current study used data from the Finnish Health Promoting Sports Club (FHPSC) study, in which a cohort of athletes and non-athletes in adolescence (14-16 years) and subsequently in young adulthood (18-20 years) were investigated.

The findings of the study showed that in adolescence, 18% of both athletes and non-athletes reported menstrual dysfunction. However, 8% of the athletes reported primary amenorrhea (absence of menses by the age of 15) in contrast to the non-athletes group, where the prevalence of primary amenorrhea was 0%. In young adulthood, the prevalence of menstrual dysfunction in athletes was 39%, while 6% of the non-athletes reported menstrual dysfunction. In this study, menstrual dysfunction was defined as follows: primary amenorrhea, prolonged menstrual cycle (>35 days) or absence of menses for at least three consecutive months (secondary amenorrhea).

“We did not investigate the reasons for menstrual dysfunction, but we know from previous studies that one of the most common reasons for menstrual dysfunction is low energy availability (i.e., inadequate energy intake relative to exercise energy expenditure),” explains Suvi Ravi, the corresponding author and a PhD student at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences.

“The human body is wise, and in this kind of situation it allocates energy to the functions essential for survival and reduces energy allocation for the systems that are not so essential for life, such as reproductive function.”

The present study also assessed body weight dissatisfaction among the participants. The results showed that athletes were more satisfied with their weight and had less desire to lose weight than non-athletes did. Despite this, in both age groups about 20% of the athletes and about 40% of the non-athletes reported body weight dissatisfaction.

“This is concerning since we know that body weight dissatisfaction can result in disordered eating,” Ravi says.

“Attention should be paid to young people’s body weight dissatisfaction as well as menstrual dysfunction in order to prevent future health problems, such as disordered eating and impaired bone mineral density, which can result from low energy availability and menstrual dysfunction.”

Study finds athletes fear being judged as weak when they experience pain or injury

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Trinity researchers have undertaken the first multi-centred, international, qualitative study exploring the athlete experience (in their own words) of sporting low back pain (LBP).

LBP is common in rowers and can cause extended time out from the sport and even retirement for some athletes. Rowers from diverse settings (club and university to international standard) in two continents were included in the study.

The findings have been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

In an Irish context, rowing is currently one of our most successful sports and Rowing Ireland has 4000 registered racing members. About 50% of elite rowers in Ireland will have an episode of rowing related low back pain in a year. Australia is one of the biggest rowing nations in the world. Researchers at Curtin University in Perth, who partnered on this study are globally respected for their back-pain research.

With the evolution of professional sport, the mantra of ‘win at all costs’ pervades. This attitude is present even in grassroot sports.  Focus has shifted from enjoyable participation to prioritising performance outcomes, leading to athletes being regarded as an asset, commodity or an investment.

A culture of toughness and resilience is encouraged but this can create confusion when it comes to reporting  pain and injury which is common in sport. Athletes commonly internalise a myth that pain equates to weakness and personal failure. There is a rising interest in the influence of sporting culture on athlete’s welfare; athlete abuse through mistreatment following injury is part of this.

For many sports, athletes’ health is not prioritised, and this is now recognised as a form of abuse. Some athletes are not provided with a culture and environment where they can report pain and injury without negative consequences. To understand the extent of this issue and to safeguard athletes, their voice and experiences need to be heard in research.

Qualitative research allows athletes to tell their stories in their own words and is a good method of exploring their lived experience. By understanding what an athlete’s experience of pain and injury is will lead to a better management of injury and better outcomes. It is likely to contribute to prevention of injury.

The key messages from the study are:

  • Rowers in this study felt compromised by their LBP and in many cases felt that the prevailing culture and environment did not allow them to be open and honest about their LBP for fear of exclusion.
  • Many felt that they had to continue competing and training when in pain. This may have increased risk of a poor outcome from their LBP as well as the poor negative emotional/mental experience that they encountered
  • Rowers experience of LBP can lead to isolation and can have a profound effect on their life beyond sport.

Athletes using sport supplements are more open to doping — study

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Athletes using legal performance enhancing and medical sport supplements are more likely to dope than those using sport foods and superfoods, a new study reveals.

While some sport supplements may be necessary for an athlete’s programme, taking ergogenic and medical sport supplements may inadvertently lead to sports people developing favourable attitudes towards doping

Researchers at the University of Birmingham and Canterbury Christ Church University are calling for bespoke anti-doping education for athletes using such supplements to prevent them turning to banned substances.

In the first study of its kind, the researchers surveyed 573 athletes competing at club, country, national and international level about their use of four types of sport supplements:

  • Ergogenic, such as creatine – used to improve performance;
  • Medical, such as iron – used to treat clinical issues and nutrient deficiencies;
  • Sport foods/drinks, such as protein bars – providing a source of nutrients; and
  • Superfoods, such as goji berries – which claim to optimise health and performance.

Publishing their findings in Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, the researchers note that athletes using ergogenic and medical sport supplements to improve performance, through boosting strength and shortening recovery between training sessions can develop the belief that doping is another means to improve performance.

Co-author Christopher Ring, Professor in Psychology at the University of Birmingham, commented: “Our results have important implications for coaches, nutritionists and sport doctors – they must appreciate that athletes who are administered ergogenic and medical sport supplements may develop more favourable attitudes towards doping.

“An athlete using these supplements may come to believe that using chemically active substances is an acceptable way of enhancing sport performance. This belief could then later develop into a rationalisation that doping is just another means to enhance performance.”

Two in five athletes surveyed (42%) used ergogenic supplements, whereas one in five used medical sport supplements (18%) and sport foods and drinks (21%). Superfoods were rarely used (2%). Over half (53%) used at least one sport supplement.

Researchers note that future research such explore how use of one supplement type may lead to another and eventually the use of banned substances – for example, superfood use leads to ergogenic and medical supplement use, which may in turn, lead to doping.