Pre-Season Fitness Makes No Difference to Risk of Injury, but Type of Sport and Gender Does, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (July 20, 2012) — But the type of sport played and gender did, according to a new study published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology. This study into varsity athletics found that women had a shorter time to injury than men and that certain sports, such as volleyball, also had a significantly shorter time to injury than others, such as hockey or basketball.

Fitness evaluation and pre-participation are standard practice in university sport. They screen the athletes for health problems and for high-risk behaviors which may affect performance throughout the season. Researchers from the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation and the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta, measured pre-season fitness for six varsity teams.

They used a vertical jump test to estimate instantaneous anaerobic power and lower body strength and a sit and reach test to evaluate lower back and hip flexibility. Another test measured agility (acceleration, deceleration, pivoting and quick footwork). Push-ups were used to measure upper body endurance, and sit-ups determined core strength and flexibility. Shoulder flexibility was also assessed. Both practice and game time were recorded to give to time to injury.

Over two thirds of the sports players in the study suffered injury throughout the season, most commonly muscle or tendon strain in the legs or feet. Although players missed practice time due to their injuries (55% missed at least one practice due to injury) most did not miss any games. In fact about 40% of injuries occurred during preseason practice.

Time to first injury was shorter for the women than the men occurring on average 40% of the way through the season for female athletes, and 66% of the way through the season for males. Time to injury also depended on sport with the injuries occurring sooner in volleyball than any other sport tested. For women, volleyball injury occurred, on average, less than 20% of the way through the season, and 35% for men. Men’s hockey was the safest sport with first injuries only occurring, on average, three quarters of the way through the season.

Analysis of the fitness evaluation showed that time to injury was not affected by the level of pre-season fitness. Michael Kennedy, one of the team who performed this study explained, “The only association we found between preseason fitness and injury was that lower upper body strength, as evaluated by push-ups, was associated with a shorter time to injury — this was despite most of the injuries being associated with the lower body.”

Prof Kennedy continued, “Our study attempted to answer the question whether fitter athletes are more resilient to injury than less fit athletes. We know from our data that differences exist between risk of injury in pre-season training, regular season training and actual games. However most importantly our data clearly show that time to first injury for athletes is more heavily influenced by gender and sport than pre-season fitness.”



Journal Reference:

  1. Michael D Kennedy, Robyn Fischer, Kristine Fairbanks, Lauren Lefaivre, Lauren Vickery, Janelle Molzan, Eric Parent. Can pre-season fitness measures predict time to injury in varsity athletes?: a retrospective case control study. Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology, 2012; 4 (1): 26 DOI: 10.1186/1758-2555-4-26


BioMed Central Limited (2012, July 20). Pre-season fitness makes no difference to risk of injury, but type of sport and gender does, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2012, from­ /releases/2012/07/120723095142.htmation:


Sport Sciences Looks at Demands of Competitive Surfing

ScienceDaily (July 23, 2012) — Want to train to become a competitive surfer? You’ll need high endurance for paddling with bursts of high-intensity activity and short recovery times, according to a study in the August issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

The study by Olly R.L. Farley, MS, and colleagues of Auckland University of Technology is one of the first detailed analyses of the physical demands of surfing. The results will help strength and conditioning professionals to design training regimens to help athletes meet the sport-specific demands of competitive surfing.

New Insights into Physical Demands of Surfing The researchers analyzed the physical demands of surfing in 12 nationally ranked surfers in New Zealand during heats in sanctioned events. The surfers were videotaped as they performed competitive heats, while wearing a global positioning system (GPS) unit and heart rate monitor. The data were broken down to measure the time spent in various types of activities, the physical demands of each activity, and the speed and distance traveled.

The results showed that the athletes spent most of their time paddling: 54 percent of the total. The surfers spent 28 percent of the time stationary on their boards, waiting for a wave. Riding waves accounted for eight percent of the time and paddling for waves four percent. (The rest of the time was spent in other, miscellaneous activities.)

However, demands changed rapidly — more than 60 percent of times spent paddling and times spent stationary lasted less than ten seconds. Thus athletes had to respond rapidly to changing conditions while watching the surf and competing for waves.

According to GPS data, the average speed for all surfers was 2.3 miles per hour. However, the average peak speed while riding waves was 20.75 mph, with a top recorded speed of 27.96 mph. Farley notes that these were absolute speeds, subject to wave height, conditions and type of break.

During a 20-minute heat, the surfers covered an average distance of about one mile. “The surfers were actually paddling almost 0.62 miles per heat, up to three heats a day,” Farley points out.

The average heart rate during competitions was 139 beats per minute, with a peak of 190 bpm. Two-thirds of the time was spent with heart rates in the moderate- to high-intensity range. The researchers expected that heart rates would be highest when the athletes were paddling to catch a wave — but found that peak rates occurred right after the surfers finished riding a wave. “One reason for such a result could be the physical demands of riding the wave, coupled with the adrenaline release ensuing from the wave ride and fall,” the researchers write.

Despite huge growth in surfing worldwide, few studies have looked at the physical demands of competitive surfing. The new study is one of the first to use sophisticated performance analysis techniques — including GPS and heart rate monitoring with second-by-second video analysis — to measure the physical demands of surfing during competition.

Based on the results, Farley and colleagues write, “Competitive surfing therefore involves intermittent high-intensity bouts of all out paddling intercalated with relatively short recovery periods and repeated bouts of low-intensity paddling, incorporating intermittent breath holding.” They propose a regimen for training and fitness professionals to follow in designing “surfing-specific conditioning sessions” — emphasizing aerobic conditioning, fast recovery times, and high-intensity heart rate workloads.



Journal Reference:

  1. Oliver R.L. Farley, Nigel K. Harris, Andrew E. Kilding. Physiological Demands of Competitive Surfing. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2012; 26 (7): 1887 DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182392c4b


Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (2012, July 23). Sport sciences looks at demands of competitive surfing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2012, from­ /releases/2012/07/120723094818.htm

Go-Fast ‘Dimples’ May Be the Secret to Running Success

ScienceDaily (July 20, 2012) — In the run-up to London’s 2012 Olympic Games, research revealed by a sports science expert at Birmingham City University has highlighted how the design of running shoes could boost an athlete’s performance.

You may not be able to beat the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt — but research led by Birmingham City University has revealed that a more aerodynamic running shoe could give an athlete a competitive advantage.

In the run-up to London’s 2012 Olympic Games, research revealed by a sports science expert at Birmingham City University has highlighted how the design of running shoes could boost an athlete’s performance.

Alongside colleagues from other Midlands universities, Professor Robert Ashford, Director of Postgraduate Research Degrees at Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Health, and his team have examined the drag on models of middle to long distance running shoes by running a series of wind tunnel tests.

The ground-breaking work has been published in the International Journal of Sports Science and Engineering and highlighted in a special Research Councils UK report entitled: ‘Supporting a UK Success Story’.

Shoes tested by Professor Ashford’s team were a Nike Zoom, Nike Free, Nike 100km and a Reebok DMXRIDE. The researchers concluded that the aerodynamics of a running shoe, both in terms of upper shoe design and the overall composition of the frontal aspects of the shoe, could potentially affect a runner’s performance.

According to Professor Ashford shoes that simulate the texture of a golf ball — eg featuring “dimples” — did well in the tests and proved to support better aerodynamic performance.

“If looking at differences in wind conditions, these small differences over a long period of time may actually affect energy consumption and ultimately the finishing time for an individual athlete — whether they are a professional or an amateur,” said Professor Ashford.

Sixteen-year-old Ellis Sabin, an up-and-coming middle distance runner with West Midlands based Tipton Harriers, helped to put the researchers’ theories to the test on the running track.


The team set four different wind speeds to observe and measure how the shoes reacted to certain speeds in terms of their drag properties. The research revealed that the drag on the shoes varied.

Until now, say the research authors, the sports shoe industry has focused much more on the aesthetic appeal of running shoes rather than their aerodynamic qualities. With manufacturers expressing strong interest in the research, Professor Ashford expects the design of running shoes to change accordingly in time for the next Olympic Games.

Professor Ashford added: “Very little research to date has been done on the material of running shoes and there is great potential here for the future.”


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert L. Ashford, Peter White Clive E. Neal-Sturgess, Nachiappan Chockalingam. A Fundamental Study on the Aerodynamics of Four Middle and Long Distance Running Shoes. International Journal of Sports Science and Engineering, Vol. 05 (2011) No. 02, pp. 119-128


Birmingham City University (2012, July 20). Go-fast ‘dimples’ may be the secret to running success. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2012, from­ /releases/2012/07/120720083031.htm

Researcher Calls for Global Action On Pandemic of Physical Inactivity

ScienceDaily (July 18, 2012) — The high prevalence and consequences of physical inactivity should be recognized as a global pandemic, according to a new publication by Harold W. Kohl, III, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at The University of Texas School of Public Health, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).


“Physical inactivity continues to be undervalued among people who can make a difference despite evidence of its health benefits and the evident cost burden posed by present levels of physical inactivity globally,” said Kohl, who is also with the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at the UT School of Public Health.

The paper is the fifth and final paper in The Lancet “Series on Physical Activity” published this week and outlines key strategies and resources needed to make physical activity a global public health priority. “This series emphasizes the need to focus on population physical activity levels as an outcome, not just decreasing obesity,” said Kohl, professor of kinesiology at The University of Texas at Austin.

The health burden of physical inactivity is substantial, according to Kohl. “Although regular physical activity is critical for weight control, it is equally or more important for lowering risk of many different chronic diseases such as heart disease, some cancers, osteoporosis and diabetes.”

According to Kohl, research on physical activity needs to be its own priority within public health research of non-communicable diseases.

Globally nearly one-third of persons 15 and over were insufficiently active in 2008 and approximately 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to insufficient physical activity, according to the World Health Organization. In 2008, the prevalence of insufficient physical activity was highest in the Americas and Eastern Mediterranean regions.

In the paper, the researchers argue for increased prioritizing of physical activity across multiple sectors of influence including health, transportation, sports, education and business. “This issue is of particular importance in countries with low-to-middle incomes, where rapid economic and social changes are likely to reduce the domestic, work and transport-related physical activity demands of daily life,” said Kohl. “Improved understanding of what works best in these nations will be key to developing national policies and action plans.

Kohl recommends a multi-sector and systems-wide approach to physical activity promotion to increase population levels of activity worldwide rather than efforts focused on individual health. “Traditional approaches, where responsibility for change has resided with the health sector, will not be sufficient,” said Kohl. “Improvements must happen at every level including planning and policy, leadership and advocacy and workforce training.”

In 2008, 25.4 percent of U.S. adults reported no leisure time physical activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). County estimates of leisure-time physical inactivity range from 10.1 percent to 43 percent in the United States. These rates reflect adults who report no physical activity or exercise other than at their regular job.

“The response to physical inactivity has been incomplete, unfocused, understaffed and underfunded compared with other risk factors for non-communicable diseases,” said Kohl. “This has put physical activity in reverse gear compared with population trends and advances in tobacco and alcohol control and diet.”

Kohl said Texas is one of a few states that have a plan to promote physical activity, Active Texas 2020. He led the development of the plan with the Governor’s Advisory Council on Physical Fitness. The Active Texas plan includes strategies and ideas that can be used by communities throughout the state.

“Physical education in schools is still one of the most effective means promoting physical activity, particularly among children,” said Kohl. Texas Education Code requires elementary school students to receive at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity and 225 minutes of physical activity per two weeks for four of six semesters for middle school students.

Kohl was recently appointed to lead the Institute of Medicine’s committee on Physical Activity and Physical Education in the School Environment. He is on the President’s Council of Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Science Board. Kohl also led development of the 2008 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines.


Journal Reference:

  1. Harold W Kohl, Cora Lynn Craig, Estelle Victoria Lambert, Shigeru Inoue, Jasem Ramadan Alkandari, Grit Leetongin, Sonja Kahlmeier. The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health. The Lancet, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60898-8


University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (2012, July 18). Researcher calls for global action on pandemic of physical inactivity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 19, 2012, from­ /releases/2012/07/120718112055.htm

Handlebar Level Can Affect Sexual Health of Female Cyclists

ScienceDaily (July 9, 2012) — A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine reveals that handlebar position is associated with changes in genital sensation in female cyclists.

Led by Marsha K. Guess, MD, MS, of Yale University School of Medicine, researchers evaluated bicycle set-up in terms of the relationship between the seat and the handlebars. 48 competitive women cyclists were studied.

Researchers measured saddle pressures and sensation in the genital region to see if placing handlebars in different positions affects pressure and sensation in the genital region. Results showed that placing the handlebar lower than the seat was associated with increased pressure on the genital region and decreased sensation (reduced ability to detect vibration).

“Modifying bicycle set-up may help prevent genital nerve damage in female cyclists,” Guess notes. “Chronic insult to the genital nerves from increased saddle pressures could potentially result in sexual dysfunction.”

“There are a myriad of factors affecting women’s sexual function. If women can minimize pressure application to the genital tissues merely by repositioning their handlebars higher, to increase sitting upright, and thereby maximize pressure application to the woman’s sit bones, then they are one step closer to maintaining their very important sexual health,” explained Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Journal Reference:

  1. Sarah N. Partin, Kathleen A. Connell, Steven Schrader, Julie LaCombe, Brian Lowe, Anne Sweeney, Susan Reutman, Andrea Wang, Christine Toennis, Arnold Melman, Madgy Mikhail, Marsha K. Guess. The Bar Sinister: Does Handlebar Level Damage the Pelvic Floor in Female Cyclists? The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2012; 9 (5): 1367 DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02680.x