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Stressed out soccer players

Menthol for Training in the Heat, Napping to Improve Breathing and the Impact of Motivation on Mental Fatigue

Welcome to our weekly summary of the latest research from the world of sports nutrition.

Train hard!

 

Menthol Mouth Rinse May Improve Your Performance in the Heat 

Peppermint plant

This study explores the potential benefits of rinsing the mouth with menthol in improving exercise performance. Menthol, known for its cooling sensation, can activate cold receptors in the mouth, which may influence the brain's reward centres and reduce the perception of exertion during exercise. The review discusses various studies that have shown improvements in performance with menthol mouth rinsing, particularly in endurance exercises lasting over 20 minutes. The exact mechanisms are not fully understood, but it is believed that menthol's effects on the central nervous system play a role. Overall, menthol mouth rinsing appears to be a promising and accessible strategy to enhance performance, especially in hot conditions.

Our Thoughts: Supposedly you have receptors in your mouth that can adjust your body’s response to hot and cold conditions. If you use a menthol mouthwash, theoretically your body will be better at managing training in the heat. In fact, it seemed to work in this study, where cyclists who rinsed with menthol demonstrated higher power production in the heat than those who rinsed with water or a placebo. But one question remains… how does one create a menthol placebo?

 

Strategic Napping May Improve Your Respiratory Health

Person taking a nap and sleepingThis study looked at how taking strategic naps can affect the respiratory function of young elite athletes. They had athletes take three different tests: one without napping, one after a 25-minute nap, and one after a 45-minute nap, with at least 72 hours between each test. They measured various respiratory parameters and found that the athletes had significantly better Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) values after the 45-minute nap compared to not napping at all. This suggests that longer naps might improve the maximum rate at which athletes can exhale, potentially boosting their respiratory performance. While other respiratory parameters did not show significant changes with different nap durations, the study highlights the potential benefits of strategic napping for young elite athletes' respiratory health.

Our Thoughts: Strategic napping could improve your performance! If the young elite athletes in the study improved their breathing performance by taking naps, you may feel inspired to catch up on some Z’s.

 

Pressure and Motivation Levels Can Impact Mental Fatigue

Stressed out soccer playersThis study investigated how the perceived demands of upcoming soccer matches and the motivation levels of players influence their mental fatigue over a season. They studied 26 semi-professional male players during the 2020–2021 season, measuring their perceived mental fatigue and motivation at each training session, along with the perceived difficulty of the next match. The results showed that higher motivation levels were associated with lower perceived mental fatigue, while the perceived difficulty of the next match was linked to higher perceived mental fatigue. Additionally, as the season progressed, players reported lower levels of mental fatigue. The study suggests that coaches should use highly motivating training tasks when players perceive upcoming matches to be more challenging and should be cautious with strategies to manage mental fatigue, especially early in the season.

Our Thoughts: This doesn’t just apply to soccer players. The stress of a future competition you're training for could be making you feel more fatigued. The solution? Take steps to reduce pressure on yourself, and your pre-competition training should improve.