Applied Sports Science newsletter – May 24, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for May 24, 2017


Cullen making his mark with defending Stanley Cup champs

Sanford Power from

At age 40, Matt Cullen is the oldest player skating in the NHL Conference Finals. But he’s not just filling shifts, he’s making an impact.


Can Novak Djokovic find his spark again?

Sports on Earth, Joe Posnanski from

… And then, something changed. It was subtle at first. He lost to American Sam Querrey at Wimbledon. Querrey did the one thing that seemed impossible against Djokovic: He overpowered Novak. But, you know, we wrote it off, a fluke. Djokovic did then win another Masters 1000 in Toronto, but there were rumors swirling around that he was having personal issues.

I was there in Rio at the Olympics when he lost in straight sets to Juan Martin del Potro. I have never seen anyone hit forehands like del Potro hit that day. Still, there was something oddly detached about Novak. He had made clear how important the Olympics were to him. And yet he lacked fight. More to the point, he seemed to lack MENTAL fight. One thing that had marked Djokovic through the years was his ability to adjust, to get mad at himself and scream at the people in his box and change shirts and then reinvent himself. He would develop new strategies, try different things until he found something that worked.


Sleep and Wellness Summit Recap

Korey Stringer Institute, William M Adams from

Sleep is an essential aspect of one’s health and normal physiologic function. It has been well documented within scientific literature that sleep restriction or sleep loss is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus II, obesity and other comorbidities. Additionally, in the context of sport or physical activity, alteration of one’s sleep has been shown to impair physical and cognitive performance, which could be the difference of a win or loss on the athletic playing field, loss of productivity or increased accidents on the job site or catastrophic outcome in military operations.

Narrowing down the issue of sleep and performance to a specific population, the collegiate student-athlete, is at the most risk of sleep loss or restriction. The collegiate student-athlete’s schedule may be one of the most demanding schedules of individuals in the 18 to 22-year-old age bracket; these student-athletes not only have the demands of training and competing in their sport, but are also responsible for managing a full work load as a student and fulfilling any open time to the social aspect of being a college student. It is not uncommon for some of these athletes to be putting in 40-80 hours of week of work centered on their sport and academic work.


Explaining the East/West Asymmetry of Jet Lag

SIAM News, Thomas M. Antonsen, Michelle Girvan, Zhixin Lu, and Edward Ott from

Jet lag is a common experience for airplane travelers crossing multiple time zones. Typical symptoms include drowsiness, discomfort, reduced functionality during the local daytime, and difficulty sleeping during the local nighttime. Simply explained, the human body follows a circadian rhythm that synchronizes with the local 24-hour day/night cycle of external natural conditions (particularly the rising and setting of the sun) and social conditions. Upon rapid crossing of several time zones, the body’s circadian oscillation needs time to resynchronize to the local oscillation phase of the external conditions; this resynchronization phase manifests as jet lag symptoms in travelers. Since resynchronization of an oscillator is a dynamical process, this phenomenon lends itself to mathematical modeling from a dynamical systems perspective.

While the body produces many signals that help determine its circadian rhythm, one bodily region seems particularly important in this process: the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a tiny region of the brain’s hypothalamus. Physiological studies show that the SCN contains of the order of 104
neural oscillators, and that it is reasonable to assume that, in isolation, the periods of individual oscillators are distributed with a small dispersion around a mean slightly longer than 24 hours. When coupled together within the SCN, these oscillators are thought to undergo collective synchronization with each other as well as with external stimuli experienced by the individual, e.g., the rising and setting of the sun.


You Still Need Your Brain

The New York Times, Daniel T. Willingham from

Most adults recall memorizing the names of rivers or the Pythagorean theorem in school and wondering, “When am I ever gonna use this stuff?” Kids today have a high-profile spokesman. Jonathan Rochelle, the director of Google’s education apps group, said last year at an industry conference that he “cannot answer” why his children should learn the quadratic equation. He wonders why they cannot “ask Google.” If Mr. Rochelle cannot answer his children, I can.

Google is good at finding information, but the brain beats it in two essential ways. Champions of Google underestimate how much the meaning of words and sentences changes with context. Consider vocabulary. Every teacher knows that a sixth grader, armed with a thesaurus, will often submit a paper studded with words used in not-quite-correct ways, like the student who looked up “meticulous,” saw it meant “very careful,” and wrote “I was meticulous when I fell off the cliff.”


Overachieving Ivy League students are learning the wrong lesson about what it takes to be successful

Quartz, Emma Seppala from

As a researcher and instructor at elite universities in the US, I watch with interest each year as parents and their children celebrate students’ admission to big-name schools with single-digit acceptance rates. I can attest that Ivy League schools and their competitors offer truly excellent educations. But if I could offer one piece of advice to incoming freshman, it would be to learn to take care of themselves—because they are about to be surrounded by people who often have the misconception that racking up achievements and accolades is more important than leading a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

This skewed view of reality can do major damage to a young person, not just during their time in school, but further down the line. I understand the danger because I’ve gone down this rabbit hole myself.


Are mobile apps superior as an intervention delivery tool?

Amsterdam Collaboration on Health & Safety in Sports from

Just out in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport .. the ink still dripping from the pages. Our most recent result on the effectiveness of mobile applications as a tool for injury prevention in sports. Our study showed that the implementation method of a NMT program by using an App or a Booklet did neither lead to different injury incidence rates in the long term nor did it influence residual functional disability/pain.

Recurrent ankle sprains can be reduced by a neuromuscular training program (NMT). The way NMT is delivered may influence the incidence of long term recurrent injuries, residual pain and disability. This RCT, with a follow-up of twelve months, evaluated whether the implementation method of a proven effective NMT program delivered by a mobile application or a written instruction booklet, resulted in differences in injury incidence rates, functional ankle disability/pain in the long term, assuming equal compliance – as is shown in previous research – with the 8-week intervention.


Human Pose Detection

Medium, samim from

… For over 20 years, Motion Capture has enabled us to record actions of humans and then use that information to animate a digital character or analyse poses. While movie makers and game developers embraced such technologies — it until recently required expensive equipment which captured only few aspects of the overall performance.

Today, a new generation of machine learning based systems is making it possible to detect human body language directly from images. A growing number of research papers and open-source libraries addresses key aspects: Body, Hand, Face, Gaze Tracking. Identity, Gender, Age, Emotion and Muscle strain Detection. Action Classification & Prediction.


Concussions drop in high school football with new techniques

Greenville Online from

All over Greenville County, the ritual has begun.

High school athletes are hurling footballs and tackling opponents during afternoon practices in the hopes of a winning season. Or at least a winning game or two.

As they charge one another to control the ball and advance on the field, physical contact that can lead to injury is inevitable.

And in recent years amid widespread reports that concussions have led to dementia, suicide and other neurological conditions among former NFL players, concerns have mounted about the damage that can be done to the young brains of youth, high school and collegiate players in the sport.


Everything We Know About Treating Tendon Injuries Is Wrong

Outside Online, T.J. Murphy from

After most MCL and ACL surgeries, doctors focus on treating and rehabbing the soft-tissue, while almost completely ignoring motor patterns and biomechanics


Gut Science Is the Future of Hydration

Bicycling, Selene Yeager from

On the face of it, hydration seems simple. You get thirsty. You drink. You pedal on. End of story. And for easy beach cruises and coffee shop rides, you can pretty much close the book right there. Once you throw some intensity in the mix, however—especially if you’re hammering in the heat—the story becomes far more complicated.

That’s because the the gut—the main protagonist in sagas full plot twists like nausea, sloshing stomach, and effective dehydration—is a very complicated character.


Optimising nutrition in a bid to break the two-hour marathon mark

The Conversation, Stephen Mears from

… For a marathon runner, nutrition plays a vital role and that means taking on carbohydrate to provide additional fuel to that already stored in the muscles and liver. There is a limit though.

The most carbohydrate that can be used by anyone is thought to be around 90g per hour as long as different types of carbohydrate are used in the drink – for example, the sugars maltodextrin and fructose. This limit also depends on the carbohydrate being emptied from the stomach into the intestines and from the intestines into the blood at a fast enough rate without causing gastrointestinal discomfort.


Lean-burn physiology gives Sherpas peak-performance

BBC News, Roland Pease from

… Sherpas actually have thinner blood, with less haemoglobin and a reduced capacity for oxygen (although this does have the advantage that the blood flows more easily and puts less strain on the heart).

“This shows that it’s not how much oxygen you’ve got, it’s what you do with it that counts,” concludes Cambridge University’s Prof Andrew Murray, the senior author on the new study.


The Rise of Artificial Intelligence through Deep Learning | Yoshua Bengio | TEDxMontreal

YouTube, TEDxTalks from

A revolution in AI is occurring thanks to progress in deep learning. How far are we towards the goal of achieving human-level AI? What are some of the main challenges ahead?

Yoshua Bengio believes that understanding the basics of AI is within every citizen’s reach. That democratizing these issues is important so that our societies can make the best collective decisions regarding the major changes AI will bring, thus making these changes beneficial and advantageous for all.


Neuromechanics of flamingos’ amazing feats of balance

The Conversation, Lena Ting and Young-Hui Chang from

If you’ve watched flamingos at the zoo – or if you’re lucky, in the wild – you’ve likely wondered how flamingos manage to sleep standing on one leg.

Of course, as humans, we think standing on one leg is hard because it’s difficult for us. Tree pose in yoga becomes increasingly difficult as you lift your leg higher, reach your arms up and tilt your head. It becomes almost impossible if you close your eyes. Most of us wobble and sway, then put a foot down, and shake out the leg we were standing on.

As scientists, the two of us are interested in how the brain controls the body – a field we call neuromechanics, at the intersection of biomechanics and neuroscience. Our latest research question: Just how do flamingos stand on one leg? Our search brought us up close and personal with a flock of juvenile flamingos and even flamingo skeletons and cadavers to figure out how they achieve their amazing feats of balance.


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