Friday, 27 February 2015

New article published on strength training for the elderly


In 2013 I was kindly invited by my colleague Dr. Urs Granacher in Potsdam to give a talk to his institution about science in sport. During my stay we discussed about many aspects of sports science and spent a lot of time talking about bilateral deficit and the fact that there was not much research on assessing it in various populations and also on the effectiveness of various training interventions on this interesting neuromuscular phenomenon. In particular, I was concerned with the amount of training prescriptions characterised by exercises involving two limbs, while most movements are performed with one limb. Also, we discussed how this was relevant for the elderly, as the risk of falls is large for older people and falls occur normally when most of the weight is supported by one leg.
Discussions moved to actions, and the project has been now published on Plos One. The abstract is below and if you want to read the article you can click on the image.



    Abstract


    The term “bilateral deficit” (BLD) has been used to describe a reduction in performance during bilateral contractions when compared to the sum of identical unilateral contractions. In old age, maximal isometric force production (MIF) decreases and BLD increases indicating the need for training interventions to mitigate this impact in seniors. In a cross-sectional approach, we examined age-related differences in MIF and BLD in young (age: 20–30 years) and old adults (age: >65 years). In addition, a randomized-controlled trial was conducted to investigate training-specific effects of resistance vs. balance training on MIF and BLD of the leg extensors in old adults. Subjects were randomly assigned to resistance training (n = 19), balance training (n = 14), or a control group (n = 20). Bilateral heavy-resistance training for the lower extremities was performed for 13 weeks (3 × / week) at 80% of the one repetition maximum. Balance training was conducted using predominately unilateral exercises on wobble boards, soft mats, and uneven surfaces for the same duration. Pre- and post-tests included uni- and bilateral measurements of maximal isometric leg extension force. At baseline, young subjects outperformed older adults in uni- and bilateral MIF (all p < .001; d = 2.61–3.37) and in measures of BLD (p < .001; d = 2.04). We also found significant increases in uni- and bilateral MIF after resistance training (all p < .001, d = 1.8-5.7) and balance training (all p < .05, d = 1.3-3.2). In addition, BLD decreased following resistance (p < .001, d = 3.4) and balance training (p < .001, d = 2.6). It can be concluded that both training regimens resulted in increased MIF and decreased BLD of the leg extensors (HRT-group more than BAL-group), almost reaching the levels of young adults.

    Handball talk in Aspetar

    Here is the talk I gave to Aspetar hospital before the Handball World Championships in Doha. I gave a general overview about Handball performance and sports science and medicine aspects relevant for practitioners.



    Friday, 28 November 2014

    Ischemic Preconditioning Paper

    This paper was the result of an excellent collaboration with Professor Derek Yellon and his team at the Hatter Institute in University College London. We looked at different "doses" of ischemic preconditioning to understand better how to apply this conditioning intervention. The results are quite interesting and I hope this paper will be helpful for individuals designing RIPC interventions in various populations.

    The abstract is below and the article can be downloaded here

     2014 Nov 20;2(11). pii: e12200. Print 2014 Nov 1.

    Characterization of acute ischemia-related physiological responses associated with remote ischemic preconditioning: a randomized controlled, crossover human study.

    Abstract

    Remote Ischemic Preconditioning (RIPC) is emerging as a new noninvasive intervention that has the potential to protect a number of organs against ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. The standard protocols normally used to deliver RIPC involve a number of cycles of inflation of a blood pressure (BP) cuff on the arm and/or leg to an inflation pressure of 200 mmHg followed by cuff deflation for a short period of time. There is little evidence to support what limb (upper or lower) or cuff inflation pressures are most effective to deliver this intervention without causing undue discomfort/pain in nonanesthetized humans. In this preliminary study, a dose-response assessment was performed using a range of cuff inflation pressures (140, 160, and 180 mmHg) to induce limb ischemia in upper and lower limbs. Physiological changes in the occluded limb and any pain/discomfort associated with RIPC with each cuff inflation pressure were determined. Results showed that ischemia can be induced in the upper limb at much lower cuff inflation pressures compared with the standard 200 mmHg pressure generally used for RIPC, provided the cuff inflation pressure is ~30 mmHg higher than the resting systolic BP. In the lower limb, a higher inflation pressure, (~55 mmHg > resting systolic BP), is required to induce ischemia. Cyclical changes in capillary blood O2, CO2, and lactate levels during the RIPC stimulus were observed. RIPC at higher cuff inflation pressures of 160 and 180 mmHg was better tolerated in the upper limb. In summary, limb ischemia for RIPC can be more easily induced at lower pressures and is much better tolerated in the upper limb in young healthy individuals. However, whether benefits of RIPC can also be derived with protocols delivered to the upper limb using lower cuff inflation pressures and with lesser discomfort compared to the lower limb, remains to be investigated.
    © 2014 The Authors. Physiological Reports published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of the American Physiological Society and The Physiological Society.

    KEYWORDS: 

    Characterization; cuff inflation pressure; remote ischemic preconditioning; tolerability

    Finally, here is a picture of myself being a guinea pig for the pilot work (which I have done for almost all studies I published). If you are a young sports scientists running experiments, you should always experience what you will be asking your volunteers to do for you and for science. It will make your methods better but most of all you will make sure that your volunteers are well looked after.




    Saturday, 2 August 2014

    New Article Published

    This is a project we conducted before the London Olympics. Some interesting data on sweat rates in female handball players are presented.


     2014 Jul 14. [Epub ahead of print]

    Assessment of Physical Demands and Fluid Balance in Elite Female Handball Players During a 6-Day Competitive Tournament.

    Abstract

    Little data exists on drinking behaviour, sweat loss and exercise intensity across a competitive handball tournament in elite female athletes. Heart rate (HR), fluid balance and sweat electrolyte content were assessed on 17 international players across a 6-day tournament involving 5 games and 2 training sessions played indoors (23 ± 2°C, 30 ± 2% relative humidity). Active play (effective) mean HR was 155 ± 14 bpm (80 ± 7.5% HRmax) with the majority of time (64%) spent exercising at intensities >80% HRmax. Mean (SD) sweat rates during games was 1.02 ± 0.07 L·h-1 and on 56% of occasions fluid intake matched or exceeded sweat loss. A significant relationship was observed between estimated sweat loss and fluid intake during exercise (r2 = 0.121, P = 0.001). Mean sweat sodium concentration was 38 ± 10 mmol·L-1, with significant associations observed between player sweat rates and time spent exercising at intensities >90% HRmax (r2 = 0.181, P = 0.001). Fluid and electrolyte loss appear to be work rate dependent in elite female handball players, whom appear well capable of replacing fluids lost within a tournament environment. Due to large between-athlete variations, a targeted approach may be warranted for certain players only.
    PMID:
     
    25029700
     
    [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

    Saturday, 12 July 2014

    Tableau and Surveys

    I finally had some time to learn how to use Tableau. This is a fantastic software with immense capabilities! If you have not heard about it before, make sure you visit this website and download the free software to start developing amazing graphs. I have always been interested in visualising data better and I will start using this tool a lot more not only for my daily job but also to engage better with the readers of this blog.
    Here is my first attempt of using Tableau with some data I am collecting sending questionnaire to athletics coaches. This is an online questionnaire I developed to understand the educational requirements of Athletics coaches in Italy as part of an activity of the scientific commission of the Italian Athletics Federation to improve the support to coaches. I have then extended this questionnaire to coaches around the World and plan to make this available online soon for everybody working in any sport in order to experiment some crowd-based assessment of sports science in the real world in various sporting communities around the World. Here are some of the results. I will try to build a questionnaire and link it to a data dashboard for real time updates in the next few days and will launch the questionnaire on this blog and on twitter to see if we can build a map of sports science support in the real world.
    I want to make the most of social media and internet capabilities in order to conduct a large scale survey of our profession and also, in the future gather data on other aspects of Sports and Sport Science.
    The Tableau dashboard below presents some of the data gathered with the online questionnaire and it is my first attempt at using Tableau, so I hope you like it and I promise to get better at using it!



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