Special Issue "Female Athlete Health in Training and Sports Performance"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Sport and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Stacy T. Sims
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland 1010, New Zealand; Faculty of Health, University of Waikato, Hamilton 3216, New Zealand
Interests: exercise physiology; nutrition science; stressors (heat, hydration, hypoxia); sex differences; fluid balance; thermoregulation; epigenetics; neuro-endocrine interactions; non-pharmaceutical interventions
Prof. Dr. Christopher T. Minson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Human Physiology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA
Interests: cardiovascular; physiology; environmental; heat; exercise; autonomic

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last three decades, there has been a rise in the number of women participating in exercise, from physical activity to elite sport, attributable to the increasing development of, and investment in, women’s professional sport. It is well documented that performance-based research in women has not kept pace with the exponential rise in participation, and that the generalization from male data cannot be directly applied to women, given the anatomical, physiological, endocrinological, and genetic differences between the sexes. To further the development of women in sport, sex-specific research which considers the effects of women’s genetics and physiology (including hormone status) on performance is needed. This Special Issue aims to examine sex differences in performance, including preparation and recovery modalities. Broadly, this Special Issue is seeking original submissions that: (1) Use sound scientific design to distinguish differences between phases of the menstrual cycle and/or natural vs. hormonal contraception cycles on performance; (2) Investigates sex differences (from molecular through to whole-body scales) in athletic performance; and (3) Best practices for designing, implementing, and/or evaluating sex-specific training modalities. Special interest will be given to innovative submissions that expand and build upon optimizing performance and recovery between sexes. Other manuscript types of interest include relevant position papers, brief reports, and commentaries.

Dr. Stacy T. Sims
Prof. Dr. Christopher T. Minson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sex differences
  • menstrual cycle phase
  • hormonal contraception
  • female athlete health
  • performance
  • recovery
  • training methods
  • health inequalities

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Article
Influence of Female Sex Hormones on Ultra-Running Performance and Post-Race Recovery: Role of Testosterone
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10403; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910403 - 02 Oct 2021
Viewed by 766
Abstract
In recent years, increasing numbers of women have participated in extremely long races. In adult males, there is a clear association between physiological levels of endogenous sex hormones and physical performance. However, the influence of plasmatic sex hormones and the effects of different [...] Read more.
In recent years, increasing numbers of women have participated in extremely long races. In adult males, there is a clear association between physiological levels of endogenous sex hormones and physical performance. However, the influence of plasmatic sex hormones and the effects of different types of hormonal contraception (HC) on the modulation of physical performance in adult females remain to be fully clarified. Eighteen female ultra-endurance athletes were recruited to participate in the study. Different variables were studied, including hematological parameters, body mass index, and body composition. Strength measurements were obtained using the squat-jump and hand-grip test. A repeated-measures analysis demonstrated significant differences in hematological values of CK and LDH pre-race as compared to immediately post-race and after 24/48 h. Furthermore, statistical differences were found in squat-jump and hand-grip test results after the ultramarathon. Testosterone, estradiol, and the testosterone/estrogen ratio were significantly correlated with muscle fatigue and were found to be indirect markers of muscle damage. A multivariate analysis demonstrated the protective role of testosterone against muscle damage and severe fatigue. Fluctuations in endogenous testosterone levels were correlated with greater fatigability and muscle damage after the competition. Adjusting the menstrual cycle with HC would not provide any further benefit to the athlete’s competitive capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Athlete Health in Training and Sports Performance)
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Article
Comparison of the Morphological Characteristics of South African Sub-Elite Female Football Players According to Playing Position
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(7), 3603; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073603 - 31 Mar 2021
Viewed by 888
Abstract
Limited information is available on the morphological characteristics of adult female footballers, therefore the aim of this article was to examine if there are position-specific differences in the morphological characteristics of sub-elite female football players and to establish normative standards for this level [...] Read more.
Limited information is available on the morphological characteristics of adult female footballers, therefore the aim of this article was to examine if there are position-specific differences in the morphological characteristics of sub-elite female football players and to establish normative standards for this level of female football players. The morphological features of 101 sub-elite female football players (age: 21.8 ± 2.7 years) were assessed. Twenty anthropometric sites were measured for body composition and somatotype. The average value of body fat percentage was 20.8 ± 5.7%. The somatotype of the overall group was 4.0–2.4–2.1. Significant (p ≤ 0.05) differences were found between goalkeepers and outfield players in morphological characteristics. Goalkeepers were taller (166.2 ± 8.4 cm), heavier (66.5 ± 5.1 kg), possessed the highest body fat percentage (17.2 ± 6.2%) and showed higher values for all skinfold (sum of 6 skinfolds = 125.6 ± 45.9 cm), breadth, girth and length measurements. However, there were very few practically worthwhile differences between the outfield positions. Positional groups did not differ (p ≤ 0.05) in somatotype characteristics either. The study suggests that at sub-elite level there are mainly differences between goalkeepers and outfield players, but outfield players are homogeneous when comparing morphological characteristics. These results may serve as normative values for future comparisons regarding the morphological characteristics of female football players. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Athlete Health in Training and Sports Performance)
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Article
Effects of Short-Term Plyometric Training on Agility, Jump and Repeated Sprint Performance in Female Soccer Players
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2274; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052274 - 25 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1328
Abstract
The aim of the study was to determine the effects of short-term (4 weeks, twice a week: 8 sessions) plyometric training on agility, jump, and repeated sprint performance in female soccer players. The study comprised 17 females performing this sports discipline. The players [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to determine the effects of short-term (4 weeks, twice a week: 8 sessions) plyometric training on agility, jump, and repeated sprint performance in female soccer players. The study comprised 17 females performing this sports discipline. The players were randomly divided into two groups: with plyometric training (PLY) and the control (CON). All players followed the same training program, but the PLY group also performed plyometric exercises. Tests used to evaluate physical performance were carried out immediately before and after PLY. After implementing the short PLY training, significant improvement in jump performance (squat jump: p = 0.04, ES = 0.48, countermovement jump: p = 0.009, ES = 0.42) and agility (p = 0.003, ES = 0.7) was noted in the PLY group. In the CON group, no significant (p > 0.05) changes in physical performance were observed. In contrast, PLY did not improve repeated sprint performance (p > 0.05) among female soccer players. In our research, it was shown that PLY can also be effective when performed for only 4 weeks instead of the 6–12 weeks typically applied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Athlete Health in Training and Sports Performance)
Article
Effectiveness of Plyometric and Eccentric Exercise for Jumping and Stability in Female Soccer Players—A Single-Blind, Randomized Controlled Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(1), 294; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010294 - 03 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1873
Abstract
Hamstring muscle injury is common in female soccer players. Changes affecting eccentric strength, flexibility, and the quadriceps–hamstring contraction cycle are risk factors associated with this type of injury. Methods: Seventeen soccer players were randomized to two groups: experimental (plyometric and eccentric exercises [...] Read more.
Hamstring muscle injury is common in female soccer players. Changes affecting eccentric strength, flexibility, and the quadriceps–hamstring contraction cycle are risk factors associated with this type of injury. Methods: Seventeen soccer players were randomized to two groups: experimental (plyometric and eccentric exercises without external loads) and control (eccentric exercises without external loads). Eighteen sessions were scheduled over 6 weeks. The exercise program included three plyometric exercises (single-leg squat and lunge, 180 jump, and broad jump stick landing) and three eccentric exercises (Nordic hamstring exercise, diver, and glider). Dependent variables were jumping height (My Jump 2.0 App) and anterior, posteromedial, and posterolateral lower limb stability (Y-Balance test). Results: Following intervention, improvements were found in anterior and posteromedial stability (p = 0.04) in the experimental group. Posterolateral stability improved in athletes included in the control group (p = 0.02). There were differences in the repeated measures analysis for all variables, with no changes in group interaction (p > 0.05). Conclusions: Eccentric exercises, either combined with plyometric exercises or alone, can improve lower limb stability. No changes in jump height were noted in either group. There were no differences between the two groups in the variables studied. Future studies should analyze the effect of external loads on jumping stability and height in the performance of plyometric exercises. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Athlete Health in Training and Sports Performance)
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Commentary
Menstrual Cycle Hormonal Changes and Energy Substrate Metabolism in Exercising Women: A Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10024; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910024 - 24 Sep 2021
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Abstract
This article discusses the research supporting that the hormonal changes across the menstrual cycle phases affect a woman’s physiology during exercise, specifically addressing aspects of energy substrate metabolism and macro-nutrient utilization and oxidation. The overarching aim is to provide a perspective on what [...] Read more.
This article discusses the research supporting that the hormonal changes across the menstrual cycle phases affect a woman’s physiology during exercise, specifically addressing aspects of energy substrate metabolism and macro-nutrient utilization and oxidation. The overarching aim is to provide a perspective on what are the limitations of earlier research studies that have concluded such hormonal changes do not affect energy metabolism. Furthermore, suggestions are made concerning research approaches in future studies to increase the likelihood of providing evidence-based data in support of the perspective that menstrual cycle hormonal changes do affect energy metabolism in exercising women. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Female Athlete Health in Training and Sports Performance)
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