Beauty, Spectacle And Controversy


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By the time you read this, the 2006 World Cup will be well underway, and whether you’re a fan of the beautiful game or not, it can’t have escaped your attention that footballing injuries have been very much on the agenda of late. However, as our lead story explains, the relationship between football and injury risk is far more complicated than the media would have you believe! Meanwhile, another great sporting spectacle, the Tour de France, is just about to begin. But in the latest Sports Performance Bulletin, research indicates that when it comes to strength training, what works for the cycling pros may not help aspiring amateurs and club cyclists, our What The Papers Say section has come up with some fascinating research findings for sportsmen and women.

Footballing injuries – are they really on the rise?

Football is a highly athletic sport with rapid deceleration, acceleration, single stance twists, single stance ballistic movements and aerobatic manoeuvres. This may explain why the overall level of injury to a professional footballer is around 1000 times higher than in industrial occupations generally regarded as high risk! Just 10 days before the start of the tournament, the sporting headlines were full of footballing injury stories. But is the apparently growing incidence of footballing injury a reality or just media hype? Ex-Tottenham Hotspur FC physiotherapist TJ Salih puts the sport under the microscope in order to separate fact from fiction. Among the issues he discusses are: The actual evidence for an apparent rise in footballing injuries;The causes and effects of foot and spine injuries in football;A detailed description of metatarsal injury;The role of footwear, pitch surfaces and season length in footballing injuries. TJ also outlines some important injury prevention strategies, such as warm ups, muscle and joint mobilisation, and proper football, which are adopted by pro-footballers, which are equally applicable to those playing at amateur level.

Strength training for cyclists – is it a help or hindrance?

Strength training is common practice in elite sport; most athletes and their coaches know that improved strength, power or muscular endurance is likely to lead to improved performance in competition. And the consensus is that if it helps those in the upper echelons of the sporting world, it must help the rest of us. However, according to James Marshall, recent evidence suggests that except for those at the very top of their sport, the same may not always be true for cyclists. In particular, James’ article sets out to answer two questions; 1) Is strength training relevant for the beginner cyclist? 2) How does strength training affect performance in elite sprint cycling and road racing? The article starts by discussing the evidence for the benefits or otherwise of strength training for novice cyclists and then comparing this with the benefits for those training and competing at club level. There’s also a detailed description of five postural exercises that are known to be beneficial for those spending extended periods in the saddle. For more advanced level cyclists, James looks at the pros and cons of resistance training, and explains how certain types of resistance training regimes may help increase lactate tolerance via a phenomenon know as ‘peripheral adaptation’. There’s also some fascinating research on ‘explosive leg training’ and a suggested protocol that has been shown to boost 1km and 4km cycling power outputs.

What the papers say -

Compression tights and exercise -

French researchers have compared the effects of compression tights, elastic tights and ordinary shorts on the energy costs of submaximal running. The results are extremely intriguing; not only were there significant differences in performance, but the researchers also put forward possible explanations such as supporting more of the active muscles, aiding muscle pumping action, and increasing muscle co-ordination.

Pre-cooling and sport performance -

Cooling the body before exercise is thought to help athletes by delaying the increase in core temperature that tends to limit performance. Conversely, exercising muscles are thought to work better if they are warmed up beforehand. If you combine these theories, it is reasonable to assume that the best preparation for exercise in warm, humid climates would be to warm the muscles that are going to be used and cool the rest of the body. But new research by Dutch scientists on racing cyclists, simulating the conditions expected in Beijing at the 2008 Olympic games, seems to throw this theory into confusion as although results ahowed heart rate, temperature and sweat rates were lower after pre cooling, heat balance and gross efficacy or exercise were not greatly effected.

Tennis and shoulder disease -

Tennis is demanding on the shoulder, especially when performing dynamic, repeated overhead shots. But do these extreme demands place the shoulder at long-term risk? Argentinean researchers have conducted research which supports this theory.

Sarah Taylor brings this article from Sports Performance Bulletin, the free weekly bulletin with the latest news and developments from the world of sports science delivered straight to your inbox. Sports Performance Bulletin covers all aspects of the sports science spectrum, from fitness, strength and speed training, to injury and nutrition advice, and the information is from some of the most prolific memebers of the industry. To find out more about Sports Performance Bulletin visit:


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