In our round-up of sports science this month we focus on nicotine as a performance enhancer, stress fractures, repeated sprint ability, a new sports science journal, the immune system, caffeine, and return to play from hamstring injuries.
Entries by Craig Pickering
Utilizing testing to monitor training adaptations and fitness is an important part of the training cycle. Many coaches dictate workloads by prescribing a percentage of a maximum; for example, on a given strength training day, an athlete might be prescribed to lift 75% of their maximum lift. In theory, this is all well and good, but what if the tests used don’t actually test what we think they test, to the extent we think they do?
Research studies often get big headlines in the popular science media, which can be eye-catching. In today’s media saturated world, a quick headline on social media is all many of us have time for. This, of course, can lead to us not getting the full picture, and having what we do in our day-to-day negatively impacted through the incorrect application of this information.
Sleep is an important aspect of life; you don’t need me to tell you that. Indeed, over the last few years, there has been a number of research papers and a flurry of books illustrating the importance of sleep such as The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams and Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps, and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind.
Exercise has a crucial role to play in the maintenance of good health, with an abundance of research supporting that regular exercise is effective at reducing obesity rates and decreasing the risks of diseases such as type-II diabetes, some cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Despite all the benefits, exercise is not always that easy for individuals to do. For some individuals injury or sickness might preclude exercise. For others, simple motivation can be difficult. And exercise also has some negative effects. Therefore current research in the field of mimetics is looking at how advances in technology and science might allow alternate methods for individuals to get the benefits of exercise without exercising. In an ideal world, a bed-ridden individual might be able to take a pill that would give them the benefits of exercise despite the inability to get up and go for a run.
Another month, another edition of Sports Science Monthly. In this edition, we take a close look at exercise genetics, placebo and expectancy in the Premier League, the use of different predictive models to improve training and performance, a look at precision medicine in sports, and then we wrap things up with our quick-fire round-up.
You may think 240,000 miles is a long way, but it feels even longer when things start going wrong and that’s the distance to safety. This was the situation facing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they descended to the moon in their lunar module in July 1969, preparing to be the first humans to set foot on our rocky satellite, taking the one giant leap for mankind that they have become famous for.
ALTIS coach Stuart McMillan recently wrote “I don’t read coaching books anymore – but all books I read are about coaching.” This is an interesting concept, and it illustrates the importance of knowledge outside of your narrow sphere of expertise. Put simply, once you’ve read a few coaching books, you’ve essentially read them all – there are very few new ideas out there in the coaching world. The same can be said for scientific research; once you have a good base of knowledge in a specific area, there are actually very few groundbreaking papers in that particular niche that drive the field forwards.
This month, we start with a lengthily mini-review, looking at gaining a fuller understanding of how exercise causes adaptation. This is obviously paramount to coaches, because causing adaptations is what we’re interesting in; being able to understand the underpinnings of this can be useful. It gets a little heavy in places, but keep going and I’m sure you’ll find something useful within it. After that, we move back into the regular format; this month, we have a closer look at massage, repeated sprints as a marker of hamstring rehabilitation status, and the 24-hour athlete, along with a rapid-fire round-up at the end.
I recently came across an interesting book by Greg Ip titled Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe. It’s a fascinating look at the balance between risk mitigation and risk adaptation, both of which compete to either make us safer, or more at risk than before.