Entries by Craig Pickering

The most effective solution is not always the best

Effectiveness and utility are key concepts in training. An exercise can be effective if it improves a metric of interest; for example, back squats are an effective way of improving leg strength. An exercise holds utility if its utilization is beneficial within the constraints of a training program. More often than not, effective exercises provide utility. Sometimes, however, the two aren’t the same.

More than a “gene for speed”: what ACTN3 can teach us about muscle

If it’s possible to have a favorite gene, mine is ACTN3, often referred to as the speed gene. But to me it is interesting for more reasons than speed; after all top sprinters have been found to have different variants of the the gene. What is most interesting about it is that it impacts muscle function and architecture. As a result, this one gene can have a large impact on exercise adaptation, post-exercise recovery, and injury risk.

Signal or noise?

The ability to be able to recognize patterns has played a crucial role in the evolution of humans. In order to be able to pass on our DNA, we need to be able to breed, which means that we need to keep ourselves healthy enough (and alive enough) to do.

The normalization of deviance

Just over 15 years ago, the Space Shuttle Columbia began its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere at the end of its 28th mission. As it did so, Mission Control in Houston started to receive unusual readings from sensors within the left wing, with heat recordings higher than the usual 1370º celsius. These sensors then failed, as did the ones in the landing gear well on the left wing, puzzling the engineers.

The positives and negatives of exercise

We all know that exercise is good for us. The lists of benefits that exercise can give us is as wide as it is varied; it lowers our risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. It provides a mental health benefit. It reduces our chances of having low bone mineral density. It’s an important part of the healthy aging process, with exercise allowing for a maintenance of muscle strength as we grow older, making us less likely to suffer from falls, and keeping us mobile and active for much longer.

The performance enhancing effects of Tylenol

Athletes tend to be very proactive in searching out new performance enhancers, which is why the more recent substances which have broken through in the field of ergogenic aids tend not to be all that well-known, such as (-)-epicatechin. However, over the last ten years, research has started to emerge showing that a much more well-known, household drug may hold some surprising performance enhancing effects. It is so well known, in fact, that it is likely in your medicine cabinet. That drug is paracetamol, often known as acetaminophen or by it’s brand name in America: Tylenol.

Correlations, causations, and multi-sport athletes

You’ve likely heard of the importance of athletes being exposed to a variety of different sports in order to increase their chances of success in their main sport. It’s widely reported that high level athletes tend to a have a multi-sport background, with 71% of NCAA Division 1 American Football players, and 90% of Division 1 runners being multi-sport athletes. A big news story in 2017 was that 30 of the 32 NFL first round draft picks were multiple sport athletes in high school. It appears that the correlation here is clear; being a multi-sport athlete in your youth increases your chances of success. But does it?

Sports Science Monthly – February 2018

The February edition of Sports Science Monthly is perhaps our most in-depth yet. We take a look at 10 new studies this month on a variety of topics from how soon injury rehabilitation should start, adaptations from small-sided games, how resistance training stacks up against plyometrics, and the ketogenic diet for athletes. In addition, we dive into some novel topics like new research on the placebo effect, RPE, and stress contagion.