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Sports Science Monthly – May 2018

In the May edition of Sports Science Monthly we look at new research across a variety of areas including the latest research on caffeine, how genetics impact caffeine, pre-exercise stretching, recovery, muscular strength, and more. Read more

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. Read more

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. Read more

Finally, some good news in the fight against doping

Sport has a doping crisis. It has been tainted with drugs scandals for as long as I can remember, from Ben Johnson being stripped of the 100m Olympic Gold in 1988, to the more recent issues surrounding more or less the whole of Russia in the lead up to the Olympics. Among the way, we have mini-scandals – Mo Farah’s doorbell, Alberto Salazar’s cream, British Cycling’s package in a brown bag – which, whilst not direct evidence of wrong doing, further erode public confidence in the cleanliness of sport. Read more

Skeletal muscle has an epigenetic memory . . . so what?

The term epigenetics is becoming increasingly popular, not just in scientific papers, but also in the lay press. The word itself applies to a fairly complex process through which genetic expression is governed, and as such it is frequently mis-understood. I’ve previously explored what epigenetic modifications are, and what they might mean for sport, but a recent paper in this field has got the internet buzzing. Read more

A new paradigm for talent

Think over all the talent identification processes you’ve either witnessed or been involved in over the years. Typically, they tend to be comprised of some sort of test; usually physical, but they can be augmented with psychological and anthropometric measures. For example, when I was 14 I was invited to a Talent Identification day where I was put through a number of different tasks; standing long jump, 30m sprint, endurance run, seated medicine ball throw. I didn’t score particularly well in any of those tests, apart from the 30m sprint, where I was in the top 1% of all scores ever recorded. It was recommended that I take up sprinting. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – December 2017

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. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – October 2017

Welcome to another issue of Sports Science Monthly. This month, we start with an article looking at a hot topic: mindfulness training. Mindfulness has been a buzzword in daily life, from bio-hacking gurus, and in the realm of sports performance. We’ll take a look to see if the science backs up the claims. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – September 2017

Welcome back to another edition of Sports Science Monthly. This month we take a look at the practical use of sports science in coaching, and issues that arise in that relationship; the effect of body mass on ice baths; the impact of genetic variation on concussion risk; recovery for team sports; placebo effect; and individualized training based on HRV. Read more

Genetics, recovery, and individualization

When we exercise, a large range of different processes occur within our body. At the muscular level, we cause trauma to the muscle fibres. Within our cells, we cause oxidative stress, producing free radicals that damage cellular structures. We initiate an inflammatory response, stimulated by the release of cytokines such as interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor. All of these sound bad, but the context is important. Too much – either in terms of frequency, intensity, or duration – of these processes is damaging to athletes; it’s known as fatigue. The flip side of this is that these processes, and many others that occur as a result of exercise, allow us to adapt to exercise. This means that exercise adaptation is a constant balancing act between stress, which acts as a stimulus for adaptation, and recovery from this stress, which is where adaptation itself occurs. Read more