Holding Your Stretch is Holding You Back

By: Juliana Gullotta and Laura Sturgill

If you’ve participated in any athletic event, you know that one of the first things you do is to start stretching before any activity takes place. Coaches and trainers emphasize that stretching should occur on a regular basic, and become part of an individual’s workout routine. These stretches are usually static stretches (holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds). The intent of prescribing stretching before exercise, is based on the assumption that by stretching you enhance performance, prevent injuries, and increase flexibility. However, several studies, including one from the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, have shown that stretching before exercise can actually do more harm than good, and increase your risk of injury.

Results from study Conducted by the University of Nevada comparing the effects of static, ballistic, and no stretching (control) on muscle power. Asterisk signifies statistically significant.

While stretching before exercise does activate the muscles and increase blood flow to the areas as a “warm up”, it can be potentially very detrimental to an athlete’s workout. This conclusion is especially pertinent when the sport in question requires maximal force production. In a study conducted at the University of Nevada, researchers determined that leg muscles generate less force after static stretching than if they did not stretch at all. When muscles are subject to the strain of static stretching, they remain in a weakened state, thereby temporarily reducing the force that it can produce. The researchers evaluated two types of stretching, ballistic (bouncing) and static (control is no stretching). After stretching for 3 sets of 30 seconds, subjects performed a vertical jump on a force plate. Power values were compared for each of the conditions (Figure 1). From this graph it is clear to see a significant difference in the power values observed in the control group and static group. The decrease in power after stretching could inhibit a good muscle building workout. For sports that require maximum power (ex. football), static stretching should be limited before activity.

Static stretching intervals should last for no more than 60 seconds, or moderate reduction in maximal muscle performance may be observed. In a study conducted by Behm et. al. the effects of static stretching on power-speed and strength tasks were compared. One of the main components of this study involved investigating the relationship between time spent holding a stretch and subsequent performance in a physical activity. In order to perform these tests, two groups of healthy and active adults were randomly assigned, with one group holding their static stretch for less than 60 seconds and the other for a period of time greater than 60 seconds. On average there was a mean reduction of muscle performance for both test groups, but the group that held the stretch for a longer period of time experienced significantly higher reduction rates in performance. For the individuals that held the stretch for less than 60 seconds, a mean reduction of 1.1% was observed and categorized by the researchers as a small reduction in performance. However, a moderate reduction of 4.6% was noted in the population that held the stretch for longer than 60 seconds, indicating that there is a dose-response relationship between stretching and maximal muscle performance.

To investigate this relationship further, two types of physical activity were studied. Power-speed tasks were given to both groups and the results supported the notion that on average static stretching, especially when held at higher intervals, impaired muscle performance in the test subjects. While only a small mean reduction rate of 1.3% was observed for this type of exercise, this change could be extremely detrimental to an athlete’s performance where maximal speed is critical (i.e. sprinters). Power tasks were also completed, and the negative effects of static stretching on performance became more apparent. On average there was a 4.6% reduction in an individual’s maximum muscle performance, with a higher instance of 5.1% reduction when the activities were completed after a period of stretching lasting longer than 60 seconds. In another study also conducted by Behm et. al, these findings were not only supported by additional trials, but also expanded upon to look at the long term effects of stretching on overall performance. In his initial study that looked at power and speed tasks, maximal muscle performance was calculated minutes after the the stretching was complete. The second study, however, observed the prolonged effects that static stretching would have on an athlete, and concluded that even 2 hours after the last set of static stretching, instances of decreased performance existed.

The results from these studies suggest that time spent holding a stretch and subsequent muscle performance have an inverse relationship. For this reason more and more coaches and athletes are looking to implement a different approach to their warm up routine.

Straight leg march can be used as a dynamic stretch alternative to the static sit-and-reach stretch. Courtesy of the New York Times

Dynamic stretching (Figure 2) is simply the act of stretching your muscles while moving, and it is an effective method to get your blood flowing and increase your power, flexibility, and range of motion prior to working out. This type of stretching is unique in that the activities performed have the ability to target specific muscles necessary for the task at hand. In other words, different forms of dynamic stretching would be used for a sprinter and a volleyball player because each sport requires a different amount and variety of muscle activity. Dynamic stretching allows athletes to engage their bodies’ muscles in a way that static stretching cannot, thereby quickly earning its place as a replacement to static stretching in many pre-workout routines.

While the value of traditional static stretching before exercise may be an outdated concept, the benefit of increased flexibility in athletes should not be ignored. For this reason post workout stretching is recommended as a “cool down”. If necessary, short duration, lasting less than 30 seconds, low intensity static stretches could be implemented before activity to get blood flowing to muscles and reduce stiffness, but this does not offer the best possible results. The ideal warm-up routine for athletes to minimize risk of injury and maximize performance should include aerobic activity, dynamic stretching, and sport specific dynamic exercises.

Questions to consider:

How would the stretching routine you made for football players differ from that of a sprinter?

There is a lot of information about how bad form or technique during exercise can cause injury, should there be attention called to the potential adverse effects of stretching improperly?


Samuel, M. N., Holcomb, W. R., Guadagnoli, M. A., Rubley, M. D., & Wallmann, H. (January 01, 2008). Acute effects of static and ballistic stretching on measures of strength and power. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22, 5, 1422-8. 

Behm, D. G., Blazevich, A. J., Kay, A. D., & McHugh, M. (January 01, 2016). Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism =, 41, 1, 1-11.

Shrier, I. (October 01, 1999). Stretching Before Exercise Does Not Reduce the Risk of Local Muscle Injury. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 9, 4, 221-227.

Behm, D. G., & Chaouachi, A. (November 01, 2011). A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 111, 11, 2633-2651.

Shrier, I. (January 01, 2000). Stretching before exercise: an evidence based approach. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34, 5, 324-325.

Herbert, R. D., & Gabriel, M. (January 01, 2002). Effects of stretching before and after exercising on muscle soreness and risk of injury: systematic review. Bmj (clinical Research Ed.), 325, 7362.)

Reynolds, Gretchen. (2008) Stretching: The Truth. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/sports/playmagazine/112pewarm.html

Reynolds, Gretchen. (2016) The Right Way to Stretch. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/stretching-back-to-the-past/

Gatorade: Do “Average Joe”s Need to Hydrate Like Professional Athletes?

By Claire Paddock, Nick Ruggiero, and Dan Smith

Young athlete drinking Gatorade.

Everyone knows the story. The Florida Gators football coach needed a way to keep his athletes hydrated and replace the electrolytes that they lost during practice and games in the heat. Scientists at the University of Florida College of Medicine created a beverage that contained exactly what the players needed. The rest is history. Gatorade is the go-to for good tasting hydration.

Gatorade contains water, sugar, and salt (among other ingredients), to both hydrate and replace the carbohydrates and electrolytes lost in sweat while exercising. Top athletes deplete these materials in their body while exercising, and if they lose too much, it could prove to be dangerous. For example, there have been numerous cases of marathon runners becoming ill and suffering from pulmonary edema and seizures, even after drinking water throughout the marathon. Why? Hyponatremia, a condition caused by lack of sodium in the blood. These athletes were replacing the water they sweated out, but none of the electrolytes. If they had been drinking a beverage like Gatorade that had the necessary salt in it, perhaps they wouldn’t have suffered from such an extreme condition.

Staying hydrated is important not just for top athletes, but for the rest of us too. Data shows that staying hydrated is key to both physical and cognitive performance.  However, after exercise, do those of us who don’t train like professional athletes really need to be reaching for a sports drink like Gatorade?   

Gatorade, and other sports drinks, have been shown to hydrate trained athletes more efficiently than regular water. A study showed that in distance kayakers after one hour of paddling, there was a significant difference between those who were given water and those who were given Gatorade. The water group showed a mean percentage dehydration of 1.1% compared to gatorades .72%. This study also looked at volume of fluid consumed, urine output, urine specific gravity, mean loss in body mass, mean estimated water loss, and mean time of maximal exertion. While there was no statistical difference between the groups in urine output, specific gravity, volume consumed, or estimated water loss; there was a difference in percentage dehydration, loss in body mass, and time of maximal exertion with the Gatorade group showing higher results. These results show that athletes who drank Gatorade over a 1 hour paddle were more hydrated than those who drank water and that these athletes were able to maintain their maximal level of exertion longer, possibly as a result of being better hydrated. While this study only looked at a 1 hour paddle and not a typical 3 hour marathon race, the group hypothesizes that these differences in hydration would be even more apparent over longer distances.

Sugar-Sweetend Beverages (SSBs) like Gatorade, when consumed in excess, can lead to health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

While we know that Gatorade is important for hydration over long periods of exercise, it is actually not necessary for the average person. Obesity is an ever increasing problem around the world and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) are at the heart of the issue. There is evidence that SSBs like Gatorade, which contains 34g of sugar per 20 fl oz. serving, are contributing to the obesity epidemic, especially during childhood. Childhood obesity can often lead to adult obesity, bringing health conditions such as Type II Diabetes and Cardiovascular diseases with it. Individuals who consumed more than one soft drink per day had a 22% increase in incidences of hypertension, high blood pressure, than those who did not consume SSBs.

Our investigation into whether or not Gatorade should be consumed by the average individual did not bring about surprising results. First, we investigated the efficacy of Gatorade to see if it was as beneficial as it is marketed to be. While we determined that it is indeed a better way to rehydrate than water we were unable to find studies focused on untrained individuals who performed significantly less training volume than their trained counterparts. While SSBs like Gatorade should be avoided in a child’s diet as they may contribute to obesity, we did find that during exercise, particularly in hot and humid environments, Gatorade is an effective method of rehydration for children. Just as with most things, Gatorade is perfectly healthy when consumed in moderation for the average person. Based on the research we did, we can say that Gatorade, and other sports drinks, are in fact a better form of hydration than just water for trained athletes over long periods of time. However, for most people who drink it after their 30 minute gym session twice a week, it likely holds very little if any benefit over water; as they do not lose the same amount of carbohydrates and electrolytes as trained athletes.


Questions to consider:

  • What duty does Gatorade have to tell people about sugar levels?
  • How would you design a study to try and prove that Gatorade is not necessary for the “average joe”?
  • Would athletes competing in certain sports benefit more from consuming Gatorade than others similar to creatine and why might this be?


  1. “Thirst Quencher Product Details.” Gatorade, the Sports Fuel Company, Stokely-Van Camp Inc. , 2018, www.gatorade.com/product/2014124?size=24-pack.
  2. Urso, C., Brucculeri, S., & Caimi, G. (2014). Physiopathological, Epidemiological, Clinical and Therapeutic Aspects of Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 3(4), 1258–1275. http://doi.org/10.3390/jcm3041258
    1. Marathon runners with hyponatremia
  3. Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439–458. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
    1. Importance of staying hydrated
  4. Dehydration rates and rehydration efficacy of water and sports drink during one hour of moderate intensity exercise in well-trained flatwater kayakers. Ann Acad Medicine Singapore. http://www.annals.edu.sg/pdf/37VolNo4Apr2008/V37N4p261.pdf
    1. Trained athletes were able to rehydrate better with gatorade than with water after a long workout. However, neither option was able to completely rehydrate the athlete.
  5. Malik, V. S., Popkin, B. M., Bray, G. A., Després, J.-P., & Hu, F. B. (2010). Sugar Sweetened Beverages, Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease risk. Circulation, 121(11), 1356–1364. http://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.876185
    1. Sugar sweetened beverages are linked with type 2 diabetes, obesity
  6. Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. Sports drinks and energy drinks for children and adolescents: are they appropriate? Pediatrics. 2011;127:1182–1189. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/6/1182
    1. They concluded that small amounts of sports drinks could be appropriate for young people participating in vigorous physical activity in hot, humid weather. However, for the average young athlete, sports drinks are unnecessary and could contribute to negative health outcomes, such as excess weight gain and tooth decay
  7. https://www.flickr.com/photos/fivehanks/6138640703 (image)

“Eleven Wretched Women”

The media often puts their own spin on the news in order to make a statement or point of some sort. After reading Chapter 5 of David Epstein’s The Sports Gene, it is apparent that this can be traced back all the way to the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam (Epstein, 59-60). After the women’s 800m run in 1928, John Tunis of the New York Evening Post reported, “Below us on the cinder path were 11 wretched women, 5 of whom dropped out before the finish, while 5 collapsed after reaching the tape.” This reporting caused the International Olympic Committee to keep the 800m off the program until 1960. It was interesting that a simple news article was able to create this kind of power and able to change the Olympic Games.

I researched more about this specific race and came across this article (here), which reported the actual facts of that race. Roger Robinson, a senior writer for The Running Times, describes the race in detail, noting that there were actually only 9 runners in the race, as opposed to the 11 originally reported. Only one of them fell, and not from exhaustion, but instead because she was leaning forward to try to lean forward to beat her competitor. A photo of the winner was captured, Germany’s Lina (Karoline) Radke-Batschauer, in which she shows no signs of exhaustion.   According to Robinson, not only was this race false reported in the New York Evening Post, but in other newspapers as well. For example, newspapers said that women’s reproductive capability impaired by such “terrible exhaustion.” England’s Daily Mail affirmed that women who raced longer than 200m would age prematurely.

The fact that these reports were able to convince the IOC that the women’s 800m should no longer be a part of the Olympic Games shows what kind of influence the media has on our culture. It banned the 800m for over 30 years, simply because these reporters thought that women couldn’t handle such a race. Even in 1967, when the first woman ran in the Boston Marathon, she received a lot of criticism and disbelief, with people saying that there was slim to no chance that she would be able to win (read more about her experience here). It is shocking that people’s opinions can influence the rules of sporting event so drastically. Today, with social media, this problem is even more prevalent than before. Opinions are publicized from many different parties, not only confusing people, but sometimes distributing incorrect information. When discussing the issue of nature versus nurture when it comes to athleticism, it is important to consider how the media has influenced opinions in the past and present, as it can cause some serious misconceptions.

Works Cited:

Epstein, David J. The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance. 2014.

Robinson, Roger. “‘Eleven Wretched Women.’” Runner’s World, 16 May 2017, www.runnersworld.com/running-times-info/eleven-wretched-women.

Switzer, Kathrine. “Boston, 1967: When Marathons Were Just for Men.” BBC News, 16 Apr. 2012, www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17632029.

R.I.C.E. may not be all its cooked up to be for injury rehabilitation…

By Eryn Gerber and Morgan Gizzi

If you have ever experienced a sprain, it is incredibly likely that your doctor has prescribed the R.I.C.E. method for rehabilitation. The acronym R.I.C.E., which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, is a commonly used tool for most soft tissue injuries, including joint sprains and muscle tears. However, despite the popularity of the acronym, it may be phased out as a rehabilitation guideline. Several studies, including one by Michel van den Bekerom, MD et. al., emphasize that there is insufficient evidence to prove R.I.C.E. is an effective technique for soft tissue injuries. In fact, it may encourage behavior that is counterproductive to a full recovery by limiting rehabilitation options to rest and immobility of the injured area. A previous post from a student last year examines this concept in the context of ankle sprains, but it is important to evaluate the implications of the ‘rest’ portion of R.I.C.E. for multiple types of injuries.

It has recently been brought into question whether rest and immobilization are the best treatment for soft tissue injuries. In a study by T.L. Mehlhoff et. al., 52 adults with an elbow dislocation who were treated with varying amounts of immobility at the elbow were monitored for their range of motion, pain, and residual neurovascular compromise over a time period of almost three years. It was found that the longer the duration of immobilization, the more difficult it was to re-mobilize the patient’s joint due to a flexion contracture of over 30° for 15% of patients. This is because a lack of physical stress on the joint can cause cartilage atrophy and disalignment of ligament fibers, thus limiting the functional rehabilitation of the joint. Despite this study being limited in its number of subjects as well as the fact that it does not incorporate other types of injuries in addition to elbow injuries, it does show that immobilization correlates with a patient’s delayed return to activity and hinders their ability to fully recover.

The immobilization of injured joints also can have the effect of  increasing pain.  A higher pain index was recorded for patients in the  T.L. Mehlhoff et. al study that reported 35% of the patients had pain when extending their elbow and 45% of patients had increased residual pain during their follow up at three years after the initial injury. This was measured simply by whether or not there was an increase in pain since the injury occurred, and a more quantitative scale would give a more substantial case, but this is a clear indication that immobilization led to patients feeling discomfort and pain over time.  

An article published to the New England Journal of Medicine detailing a study done by Bayer et. al. found similar results to the T.L. Mehlhoff et. al study, but in a population of 50 amateur athletes with over half of this population having a thigh injury and just under half having a calf injury.  These 50 patients were randomized and some were instructed to begin remobilization two days after the injury, while the remaining athletes remobilized nine days after the injury.  The athletes were followed up with for a year and it was found that those who began to introduce movement into their rehabilitation routines soon after injury (the two days rather than nine days after injury) had a shorter recovery time until they had a full return to sports. Between elbow injuries and large muscle injuries in the leg, it is clear that exposing the site to some degree of motion and loading is beneficial to returning that area to full mobility.

The pain that patients feel post-injury, like the patients in the T.L. Mehlhoff et. al study, may be due to sensory neuropeptides becoming too sensitive in response to the healing process being interrupted by immobilization.  In a study performed by Bring et. al. in a rat model of an Achilles tendon rupture, it was found that rats that had mobility after injury had an extracellular matrix (ECM) mRNA regeneration rate at 17 days after injury that was 14 times higher than rats who were immobilized.  This ECM regeneration is what helps the tendon to recover by assisting more vasculature, collagen, and fibroblasts to the area to begin healing.  Without this proper healing the neuropeptides can become over-sensitive to stimulation, and it is this sensitivity that results in perceived pain.  This data, although founded in a rat model and not humans, links immobilization of an injury with a decrease in the mechanical steps that allow for recovery on a very crucial level.  This is yet another piece of evidence as to how important it can be to keep an injured area within some capacity of controlled loading.

With studies being done on how movement can be a key part of healing, medical professionals have been reevaluating the use of R.I.C.E. as the go-to injury rehabilitation method. P.O.L.I.C.E.D. is a new acronym that gives a more comprehensive approach to dealing with most soft tissue injuries. This acronym, which stands for Protection, Optimal Loading, Ice, Core strength, Education, and Diet suggests that a wide range of components play a role in the healing process.  The inclusion of ‘Optimal Loading’ is a more accurate way to help heal an injury than just rest alone, as is supported by the many studies previously mentioned above.

The R.I.C.E. method may simply be outdated for what we know about the importance of mobilization for soft tissue injuries.  In order to make a full and timely recovery the injured area must be mechanically loaded in order to promote healing on a molecular level that translates to a full recovery and full range of motion with limited pain. Further studies should be done to determine how soon after an injury it is beneficial for patients to begin loading and moving their injured sites, as well as studies that show how much loading is optimal long term.  However, there is evidence from multiple sources and perspectives (from micro- to macroscopic scale) that disproves the efficiency of a strictly rest-based plan for soft tissue injuries. Thus, the R.I.C.E. method should be phased out and replaced with a more effective treatment plan that involves early re-introduction to physical stress, such as P.O.L.I.C.E.D.. But this begs the question… how early is too early to re-mobilize?

*With any medical decision, you should always consult your personal physician when developing the right recovery plan for you.*

Discussion Questions:

Do you think P.O.L.I.C.E.D. is a more accurate acronym for injury rehab? Is there a study you would conduct to determine which method is more effective?  What might be a better acronym than R.I.C.E. and P.O.L.I.C.E.D. that would be simple enough for patients to incorporate but would still be effective?

Recommended Further Reading – Works Cited

  1. Michel P.J. van den Bekerom, et. al.(2012) What Is the Evidence for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation Therapy in the Treatment of Ankle Sprains in Adults?. Journal of Athletic Training: Jul/Aug 2012, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 435-443.
  2. T.L. Mehlhoff, et. al.(1988). Simple dislocation of the elbow in the adult. Results after closed treatment. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, American Volume: Feb 1988, Vol. 70, No. 2, pp. 244-249.
  3. W.H. Akeson, et. al. (1987) Effects of Immobilization on Joints. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. Jun 1987, Vol. 219, pp. 28-37.
  4. Daniel K. I. Bring, et. al. (2009). Joint immobilization reduces the expression of sensory neuropeptide receptors and impairs healing after tendon rupture in a rat model. Journal of Orthopaedic Research. Feb 2002, Vol. 27, Issue 2, pp. 274-280.
  5. Figure 1. Achilles Tendon Rupture in a human  Attribution:By Hellerhoff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  6. C M Bleakley, et. al., (2011). PRICE needs updating, should we call the POLICE?. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Sept 2011, Vol. 46, Issue 4.
  7. Figure 2. Cartoon representation of the molecular structure of protein registered with 1k8v code. Jawahar Swaminathan and MSD staff at the European Bioinformatics Institutehttp://www.ebi.ac.uk/pdbe-srv/view/images/entry/1k8v600.png, displayed on http://www.ebi.ac.uk/pdbe-srv/view/entry/1k8v/summary

Compression Clothing: Is it Worth It?

In the last few years, compression clothing has become increasingly more popular, particularly among athletes. Used in conjunction with exercise and recovery, compression garments stabilize the soft tissue and are used in hopes of improved performance and reduced risk of discomfort or injury. To do so, they aim to alter intramuscular pressure through stress and strain to increase blood, and therefore oxygen, circulation. However, while some athletes find it helps during exercise or recovery, the actual benefits of compression clothing are debatable and require more research.

Current research focuses on the type of exercise performed while wearing the compression garments. For endurance athletes such as long distance runners, compression clothing had no significant changes in blood-oxygen concentration or blood lactate levels. However, for cyclists the compression clothing increased cycling performance along with StO2 output. The variance in success rates could be due to the motion of the athlete or the amount of time the clothing is worn. It also raises the question, how does the material impact the effectiveness of the garment?  The stress/strain forces between the garment and the skin creates a difference in pressure that only works when the compression is properly fitted. For the clothing to increase blood-oxygen levels there should be enough restriction to increase blood flow, but not so much that circulation could decrease. Finding the perfect material and fit for each athlete impacts effectiveness.

While there was no significant improvement in performance when wearing compression clothing during exercise, it may have a positive impact on an athlete’s recovery time. Many athletes saw benefits in wearing compression clothing after exercise to decrease muscle soreness. While this is not directly increasing oxygen intake, decreasing soreness can help athletes recover faster after exercise. Compression clothing is often used for medical purposes such as decreasing inflammation, which could explain why it works for sore muscles.

Based on current research, there is a lack of proof that compression clothing is beneficial during exercise.  The results can be impacted by the type of material used, fit, duration and type of exercise, or even the placebo effect, but there is still a lot to discover through measuring blood oxygen levels and recovery times in athletes wearing the garments.  Additionally, there does not seem to be a negative effect from wearing compression clothing.  If you are an athlete looking for a change in performance, compression clothing may not be your answer.  However, if you struggle with soreness or inflammation after exercise, you may benefit from wearing compression clothing.

Questions to Consider:

Have you used compression garments in conjunction with exercise? Recovery/injury?

If yes, did you find that they improved your experience compared to times when compression garments were not used?

Is there a potential health risk from using compression clothing?

Do the negatives of compression clothing (comfort, thermosensitivity, ergonomics) outweigh the positives? Is it worth wearing compression clothing for a slight change in performance?

How long does an athlete need to wear compression clothing to see a difference?

Further Reading:

Beliard S, Chauveau M, Moscatiello T, Cros F, Ecarnot F, Becker F. Compression Garments and Exercise: No Influence of Pressure Applied. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2015;14(1):75-83.

MacRae B.A., Laing R.M., Partsch H. (2016) General Considerations for Compression Garments in Sports: Applied Pressures and Body Coverage. In: Engel F., Sperlich B. (eds) Compression Garments in Sports: Athletic Performance and Recovery. Springer, Cham

Engel F., Stockinger C., Woll A., Sperlich B. (2016) Effects of Compression Garments on Performance and Recovery in Endurance Athletes. In: Engel F., Sperlich B. (eds) Compression Garments in Sports: Athletic Performance and Recovery. Springer, Cham

Boucourt B, Bouhaddi M, Mourot L, Tordi N, Menetrier A. Changes in Tissue Oxygen Saturation with Calf Compression Sleeve: before, during, and after a cycling exercise. Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015 Dec;55(12):1497-501. Epub 2014 Oct 6.

Ali A, Caine M.P., Snow B.G. Graduated Compression Stockings: Physiological and Perceptual Responses During and After Exercise. Journal of Sports Sciences. 20 Feb 2007. 25(4): 413-19.

MacRae, Braid A., Cotter, James D., Laing, Raechel M. Compression Garments and Exercise. Sports Medicine. 07 Oct 2012. 41(10): 815-43.

Dermont T, Morizot L, Bouhaddi M, Ménétrier A. Changes in Tissue Oxygen Saturation in Response to Different Calf Compression Sleeves. Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015;2015:857904. doi:10.1155/2015/857904.



How Uniforms Influence Speed Skating Performance

With the Winter 2018 Olympics in full swing, it is easy to get caught up analyzing an athlete’s performance, from the routine to the costume. Of course costumes are meant to attract all of attention to the individual wearing them, but could there possibly be another, more scientific, reason for wearing these eye catching get-ups? The Washington Post recently put out an article that goes to answer this question. “In the Olympics, what athletes wear is often more about science than style,” by Rachel Feltman, explores the motivation behind uniforms worn by speed skaters.

This article looks at various factors related to costuming which may play into how a speed skater performs during a race. Comfort and personal preference of one color over another were two aspects of the costume that played a role in an individual’s performance. If the skater was comfortable and believed that they would shave a few seconds off their time in a blue suit rather than a red suit, time would actually improve. This points back to the belief that the mind has the ability to elevate an athlete’s skills or performance based on how they think they should be operating.

There is more to speed skating though than just the color of the costume, skill of the athlete, and comfort of the suit. As the individual skates across the ice, they are experiencing a considerable drag from the air. While air does not create as great of a drag force on speed skaters as water creates on swimmers, it could be the deciding factor between which athlete receives gold and silver due to the milliseconds this force costs the athletes. For this reason, countries have invested time and money into researching a uniform that would not only be stylish and comfortable, but also aerodynamic. In 2014 Under Armour began to research the best possible combination, trying out over 250 combination of fabric. The final costume worked to make the skater as sleek as possible to reduce drag, used fabrics that would not create frictional forces as the skater’s thighs rubbed together, and was dotted with tiny bumps to allows the skater to fly across the ice, similar to how a golf ball speeds through the air.

This article relates directly back to the topics covered in this course because it looks at how engineering principles influence the sports world. It looks at topics such as reducing friction, making the athletes more aerodynamic, and showcases how much time and energy goes into creating these products.

It is interesting to see how costumes influence an athlete, and begs the question as to whether or not there are other facets of uniform design which would be optimized to increase performance. Aerodynamics and friction have both been explored in this article, but could there be others as well?

Works Cited:

Feltman, R. (2018, January 21). In the Olympics, what athletes wear is often more about science than style. Retrieved February 19, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/in-the-olympics-what-athletes-wear-is-often-more-about-science-than-style/2018/01/19/67626414-f6ce-11e7-a9e3-ab18ce41436a_story.html?utm_term=.a1979b18e25b

Sports Specialization in Young Athletes: Evidence-Based Recommendations

In a review published in Sports Health, Neeru Jayanthi discusses the evidence for and against sports specialization in young athletes, specifically those under the age of 12. He begins by defining sport specialization as intense, year-round training in a single sport with the exclusion of other sports. He then compiles a table that succinctly displays the results of his literature review. He has reviewed 12 studies, in which he has identified the type of sport, type of athletes involved in the study, age at which they began their training of the sport, and the age at which they specialized. With the exception of two studies, both of which studied rhythmic gymnastics, the studies showed that most elite athletes had diversified early and specialized after 12 years of age. He goes on to discuss other factors that may impact success in sports, such as personal enjoyment of the sport and self-motivation. Lastly, he discusses how injury and burnout may be a result of high-intensity training. He concludes by stating that some specialization is needed to attain elite-level skills, however, it should be delayed until late adolescence to minimize injury and burnout.

This is a similar conclusion that was drawn by David Epstein in The Sports Gene. He too seems to conclude that early specialization may be harmful instead of beneficial to children aiming for elite status in a sport. He agrees that some sports do require early specialization, such as gymnastics, but that is only because they are able to perform at this elite level before they go through puberty. Otherwise, based on the studies he has reviewed, it doesn’t seem required to attain this level (Epstein, 51-52).

I agree with the conclusions drawn from both Jayanthi’s review, as well as Epstein’s. Early diversification allows for children to gain experience in multiple sports, allowing them to acquire skills that may be beneficial. Just like it is encouraged for students to study many different subjects in order to work both sides of their brains, and to be well-rounded students, the same can be said for athletes. Not only does diversification prevent burnout and injuries, but perhaps it could possibly aid the athlete in seeing the sport in a new way, eventually taking what he or she has learned from previous sports and applying it to their specialized sport. Even certain professional athletes today didn’t specialize until much later, if ever. For example, Danny Ainge, who is currently the general manager for the Boston Celtics, is the only player to be named a high school first team All-American in football, basketball and baseball. He then went on to play basketball at Brigham Young University, where he also played professional baseball for three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. After, he went on to play for the Celtics. There are other players like him, who were double or even triple sport college athletes. Did not specializing hurt their careers? Or did it help them? Could they have been even better at one sport if they had specialized? I like that this article also took into account (briefly) motivation and enjoyment of the sport. That isn’t something that has been discussed in the book yet, and I am excited to see what Epstein has to say about it.

Read the article here.

Works cited:

Epstein, David J. The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance. 2014.

Jayanthi, Neeru, et al. “Sports Specialization in Young Athletes: Evidence-Based Recommendations.” Sports Health, 5(3), Apr. 2013, 251–257.


The Effects of Beliefs on Maximum Weight Lifting Performance

The main goal of this study was to evaluate weight lifting performance with varying perceptions of external cues in the environment. It took place to investigate prior studies that showed evidence that self-expectations influence muscle action potentials. It took a period of 6 weeks under the conditions of subjects thinking they were lifting more than they actually were, lifting less weight than they actually were, and how much they could lift without knowing how much resistance was being utilized until the completion of the test. The study included a control group that trained every week without any changes in knowledge of resistance (they knew how much they were lifting every time). The max lift of each subject’s incline bench press was recorded under each condition and data was collected and evaluated.

What is really interesting about the article is that in all cases and in all the 48 subjects tested, the condition under which each subject performed the best was when they thought they were lifting less than they actually were. The findings relate to the class because it involves testing the effects of exercise under different mental conditions and more importantly, incorporates the effects of how psychology can play a role in both exercise and sports. Although no physiology or biology is really investigated in the study it can absolutely be related to the real sports/exercise world. This shows evidence that not only does exercise and sports involve a great deal of physical ability but also a huge mental aspect as well.

This also means that the limit you set for yourself mentally has an effect on the actual limit that you might be able to perform. In another sense this could mean the reason why great lifters or athletes plateau at a certain point in their career might be because it’s all in their head. If they set their, “Mental limit,” higher or better yet refused to give themselves one then maybe their performance would also improve.

Have you ever been a part of or seen a sports team that everyone says has the potential to be great but for some reason they just don’t win games?

The NBA team the Minnesota Timberwolves over the past few years would be a great example of this. The young team boasted a roster with young stars in Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Tyus Jones, and other young prospects. For the past three years fans thought the upcoming season would be their time to shine and almost every year they disappointed. They could barely get over 30 wins in a long and grueling 82 game NBA season without even being close to a playoff berth. This year they traded a few younger guys to get All star Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls and only halfway through the season have already surpassed their highest win total in years. The addition of a big name to their roster resulted in them setting their bar higher and they will most likely reach the playoffs for the first time in about a decade.

I think the psychology behind athletic performance and success is just as important as the physical aspects. This article shows that just because someone believed they were lifting something lighter they were able to overcome their physical limitations and improve their performance. This leaves the potential for further studies in the future that may be beneficial to the improvement of performance in athletes by utilizing techniques and mental training exercises such as ones similar to this.

The link for the article is here


Ness, R., & Patton, R. (1979). The effects of beliefs on maximum weight lifting performance.3(2), 205.

Rest Interval between Sets in Strength Training

This article essentially reflected on how training in certain ways can have certain effects on strength, endurance, hypertrophy and power of muscles. Looking at the exercise specifically they looked at the number of sets, reps, and rest between sets and how this effected the muscle of the athlete performing these movements.  Rest length between sets obviously being the changing variable in this study, the trials looked at acute responses and chronic adaptations of the muscles to note how the muscles were stimulated. Looking at longer rest periods such as 3-5 minutes, it was shown that an athlete could do more reps over the course of more sets, and with repeatedly doing this overall would get stronger than an athlete that had shorter resting periods, not allowing for as many reps between each set.  Similarly, longer rest periods allowed for more explosion and power from the athletes. For example, an NFL player at the combine doing the bench press will want to wait a significant amount of time between warming up, and performing the bench press to allow for optimal power and explosion to get as many reps as possible. When training with shorter rest periods, for example 30-60 seconds, this was shown to lead to more muscle hypertrophy and overall increase muscular endurance. Little rest between sets was proven to show an immediate acute reaction increasing growth hormone. This is shown to be effective in bodybuilders. Bodybuilders lift for the sole purpose of being big, tone, and proportionate. Getting this high intensity, more reps, low rest sets in for a workout will lead to more blood rushing to the muscle and allow for the muscle to grow. However, power lifters would implement the longer rest times with a heavier weight (closer to a 1 rep max, typically about 85%) because this leads overall to increased strength in the long run. Article results and full explanations –> http://rdcu.be/Hmqh

Overall I found this article very interesting. In todays day in age, I feel that so many people preach to lift heavy weight all the time with longer rest periods. I see this in the gym often, Delaware’s powerlifting team has a tendency to do multiple sets with a high weight, however they take a leisure break between sets usually for at least 5 minutes. This makes sense, this will increase strength in the long run however does not necessarily lead the powerlifters to get very big like a bodybuilder. On the other hand, a bodybuilder in the gym that I always see I will see doing lighter weight. He is a very big guy, however I will see him squatting 225 for 20 reps, and taking about a minute break between sets. This allows for him to completely fatigue his legs and allow them to grow, without him necessarily focusing on strength.

Has anyone else had similar experiences in this field? Has anyone else noticed a difference between lower reps, with a higher weight and longer rests, vs. higher reps with a shorter rest period?

Works Cited — de, B F, et al. “Rest interval between sets in strength training.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19691365.

Other related articles —
A brief review: factors affecting the length of the rest interval between resistance exercise sets. –> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17194236
The effect of different rest intervals between sets on volume components and strength gains. –> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296968

Other Relevant Websites for similar information –>

Effects of Protein Supplements on Muscle Recovery and Performance

Many athletes and active individuals often seek the assistance of protein supplements post-exercise for a variety of reasons. Some take them in an effort to increase physical performance, while others aim to reduce muscle soreness and enhance the recovery process. However, the majority of these individuals decide to buy and consume these supplements based on marketing claims that are not backed by scientific research. This article outlines a literature study that examines the correlation between protein and the enhancement of muscular performance and recovery. The study takes into consideration healthy adults under the age of 50, and evaluates the effects of these supplements alone or in combination with carbohydrates on varying performance metrics.The results indicated that the continued use of protein supplements significantly reduced muscle damage and soreness after training sessions, and led to a particular increase in physical performance when participants were negative in nitrogen and energy balance.1 Other studies confirm the benefits of protein supplementation on muscle recovery and performance post-exercise, but at different degrees and with varying limitations.

This article relates to the course because it describes a study and application of the research process that addresses exercise-specific responses to physiological changes. Not only does it discuss and define the metabolic changes that arise from the use of protein supplements, but it also mentions the measurement of exercises and performance for comparison. It details a systematic approach to evaluating a problem through the collection of data, data processing, statistical analysis, evidence based results, and consideration of limitations.

Over the past few years, I have experimented myself with different protein supplements and exercise regimens to observe the potential effects on muscle growth and recovery. Although there are numerous factors that come into play, I agree with the claim that supplements are beneficial when used appropriately. However, diet, degree of activity, and frequency of use lead to large degrees of variation and pose a major limitation when comparing use among individuals. Regardless, much research should be carried out when deciding which protein supplement will be most successful for you and in achieving your goals.

Works Cited

[1] Pasiakos SM, Lieberman HR, McLellan TM. Effects of protein supplements on muscle damage, soreness and recovery of muscle function and physical performance: a systematic review. Sports Med. 2014 May;44(5):655-70. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0137-7. Review.