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What’s the chance of paracetamol ending up on the list of doping substances? It could happen, you’re likely to think after reading the study that sports scientists at the University of Bedfordshire, England are about to publish in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. The Brits discovered that paracetamol probably improves team players’ explosiveness and speed, and may help endurance athletes to speed up their final sprint.

What’s the chance of paracetamol ending up on the list of doping substances? It could happen, you’re likely to think after reading the study that sports scientists at the University of Bedfordshire, England are about to publish in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. The Brits discovered that paracetamol probably improves team players’ explosiveness and speed, and may help endurance athletes to speed up their final sprint.

Giving paracetamol to cyclists results in them performing better during a time trial, but nothing is yet known about the effects of paracetamol administration on short and intensive bursts of exertion. That’s why the British researchers performed an experiment with 9 male students who were recreational athletes.

Half an hour after taking 1.5 g paracetamol the subjects were put on an ergometer, where they did eight 30-second sprints with two-minute rests between sprints. On another occasion the researchers repeated the procedure, but then they gave the subjects a placebo.

The subjects had faster speeds for all sprints after taking paracetamol. The further they were in the session, the less power they had, but the reduction was less after they had taken paracetamol.

Without paracetamol the subjects produced an average of 372 Watt per sprint. With paracetamol the figure was 391 Watt – almost 5 percent more.

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The figure above explains how athletes can generate more power during their sprints after taking paracetamol. During the last sprint in the series the subjects’ heartbeat rose, indicating that their exertion was greater.

“In agreement with Mauger et al. (2010), we suggest that participants were better able to tolerate the pain usually associated with high-intensity exercise, and this resulted in an improved work rate towards the end of the test”, the researchers conclude.

The researchers are not sure how paracetamol inhibits pain stimuli during exertion. One possibility is that paracetamol enhances the effect of serotonin in the brain, they theorise. They think that once this mechanism is understood, scientists will learn how athletes can enhance their performance.

The influence of acetaminophen on repeated sprint cycling performance.

Foster J, Taylor L, Chrismas BC, Watkins SL, Mauger AR.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of acetaminophen on repeated sprint cycling performance.

METHODS:

Nine recreationally active male participants completed a graded exercise test, a familiarisation set of Wingate Anaerobic Tests (WAnTs) and two experimental sets of WAnTs (8 × 30 s sprints, 2 min active rest intervals). In the experimental WAnTs, participants ingested either 1.5 g acetaminophen or a placebo in a double-blind, randomised, crossover design. During the WAnT trials, participants provided ratings of perceived pain 20 s into each sprint. Mean and peak power output and heart rate were recorded immediately following each sprint, and percentage decrement in mean power output was subsequently calculated.

RESULTS:

Participants cycled at a significantly greater mean power output over the course of 8 WAnTs (p < 0.05) following the ingestion of acetaminophen (391 ± 74 vs. 372 ± 90 W), due to a significantly greater mean power output during sprints 6, 7 and 8 (p < 0.05). Percentage decrements in mean power output were also significantly reduced (p < 0.05) following acetaminophen ingestion (17 ± 14 vs. 24 ± 17 %). No significant differences in peak power output, perceived pain or heart rate were observed between conditions.

CONCLUSION:

Acetaminophen may have improved performance through the reduction of pain for a given work rate, thereby enabling participants to exercise closer to a true physiological limit. These results suggest that exercise may be regulated by pain perception, and that an increased pain tolerance can improve exercise performance.

PMID: 24122176 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24122176

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