In order to achieve higher efficiency of training and thus better athletic performance, new research and diagnostic methods are constantly being developed, particularly those that are non-invasive. One such a method is thermography, suitable for quantitative and therefore objective evaluation of variables, such as changes in the temperature of the skin covering working muscles. The aim of this study was to use a thermal imaging infrared camera to evaluate temperature changes of symmetric body surfaces over symmetrically working muscles of male scullers after exercising on a two-oared rowing ergometer and compare these to asymmetrically working muscles of handball players after an endurance training session containing elements of an actual game. In the scullers, the mean temperature of body surfaces was always lower post than pre exercise, with no significant differences in an average temperature drop between the opposite sides, indicating that the work of the muscles involved in the physical exertion on the rowing ergometer was symmetrical. In contrast, in the handball players, skin temperatures in symmetric areas over the asymmetrically working muscles showed statistically significant differences between sides, which was associated with the functional asymmetry of training. This study indicates that thermal imaging may be useful for coaches in the evaluation of technical preparations in sports in which equal involvement of symmetric muscles is a condition of success, e.g. in scullers.
Association of the ACTN3 R577X Polymorphism in Polish Power-Orientated Athletes
Alpha-actinins are an ancient family of actin-binding proteins that play structural and regulatory roles in cytoskeletal organization. In skeletal muscle, α-actinin-3 protein is an important structural component of the Z disc, where it anchors actin thin filaments, helping to maintain the myofibrillar array. A common nonsense polymorphism in codon 577 of the ACTN3 gene (R577X) results in α-actinin-3 deficiency in XX homozygotes. Based on knowledge about the role of ACTN3 R557X polymorphism in skeletal muscle function, we postulated that the genetic polymorphism of ACTN3 could also improve sprint and power ability.
We compared genotypic and allelic frequencies of the ACTN3 R557X polymorphism in two groups of men of the same Caucasian descent: 158 power-orientated athletes and 254 volunteers not involved in competitive sport.
The genotype distribution in the group of power-oriented athletes showed significant differences (P=0.008) compared to controls. However, among the investigated subgroups of athletes, only the difference of ACTN3 R577X genotype between sprinters and controls reached statistical significance (P=0.041). The frequencies of the ACTN3 577X allele (30.69% vs. 40.35%; P=0.005) were significantly different in all athletes compared to controls. Our results support the hypothesis that the ACTN3 577XX allele may have some beneficial effect on sprintpower performance, because the ACTN3 XX genotype is significantly reduced in Polish power-oriented athletes compared to controls.
This finding seems to be in agreement with previously reported case-control studies. However, ACTN3 polymorphism as a genetic marker for sport talent identification should be interpreted with great caution.
There is a large gap in knowledge regarding research on post-exercise blood changes in disabled athletes. There are relatively few data on adaptive mechanisms to exercise in disabled athletes, including disabled rowers. Two rowers from a Polish adaptive rowing settle TAMix2x that qualified for the Paralympic Games in Rio, 2016 took part in this study. They performed a progressive test on a rowing ergometer until exhaustion. The cardiorespiratory fitness measures, complete blood count, white blood cells’ distribution and 30 clinical chemistry variables describing laboratory diagnostic profiles and general health were determined. The extreme effort induced changes in all studied metabolites (glucose, creatinine, urea, uric acid, total and direct bilirubin), albumin, total protein levels in both participants. Furthermore, a post-exercise increase in aspartate transaminase activity, yet a 2-fold decrease during the recovery time in both rowers were found. White blood cell count increased 2-fold after the test. The percentages of natural killer cells were higher and total T lymphocytes were lower after the exercise protocol. There were higher percentages of suppressor/cytotoxic and lower percentages of helper/inducer T lymphocyte subsets in both studied rowers. No changes in B lymphocytes distribution were observed. Lack of inflammatory symptoms during the experiment suggests a high level of rowers’ biological adaptation to the physical effort. The different changes in physiological, biochemical and immunological variables are related to the adaptive mechanism to physical exercise allowing for improvement of performance.