Mouthguards and mouthpieces have long been associated with protecting athletes from oral-facial injuries during sports activities. However, research is shedding light on an exciting new dimension to their utility – enhancing athletic performance. In this article, we delve into a study that explores the potential performance benefits of using the AIRWAAV mouthpiece during heavy resistance exercise. This research goes beyond the conventional role of mouthguards and uncovers how mouthpieces can influence physiological responses and improve athletic outcomes.
The study involved 15 experienced resistance-trained males who were put through a challenging regimen of squats, both with and without the AIRWAAV (formerly known as the ArmourBite® mouthpiece). The goal was to investigate how mouthpiece use affected serum cortisol and lactate levels, key markers of stress and fatigue during intense exercise. The results of this study could have profound implications for athletes and exercise enthusiasts looking to optimize their performance and recovery.
One of the key findings of this study was that participants using the mouthpiece exhibited several performance benefits. They completed more unassisted repetitions and required fewer assisted repetitions compared to the control group. This suggests that mouthpiece use can enhance an individual's ability to perform repetitions before muscle failure.
Moreover, mouthpiece users lifted more weight overall, indicating an improvement in their lifting capacity during heavy resistance exercise. These performance enhancements could translate into more effective training sessions and better overall gains for athletes.
Blood lactate levels are closely associated with muscle fatigue and can hinder athletic performance. This study showed that participants using the mouthpiece had significantly lower blood lactate concentrations immediately after exercise. This suggests that mouthpiece use can aid in controlling lactate buildup, potentially delaying the onset of fatigue and allowing individuals to perform at a higher intensity for longer durations.
Cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, plays a critical role in the body's response to exercise. Elevated cortisol levels can contribute to muscle breakdown and hinder post-exercise recovery. The study revealed a 39% reduction in cortisol levels 30 minutes post-exercise for participants using the mouthpiece, indicating a quicker return to baseline cortisol levels. This reduction in stress hormones may contribute to improved recovery and reduced catabolic effects.
Mechanisms Behind the Benefits
The exact mechanisms behind these performance benefits are still being explored. However, some potential explanations include increased cerebral blood flow during mouthpiece clenching and improved placement of the genioglossus muscle, which can reduce respiratory rate during aerobic exercise. These factors may collectively contribute to the observed improvements in performance and stress reduction.
While research related to mouthpieces use during exercise is still evolving, the findings of this study suggest exciting possibilities for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Performance mouthpieces like the AIRWAAV mouthpiece could potentially enhance resistance exercise performance, reduce stress, and aid in lactate control.
However, it's important to note that further research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms and to confirm these findings in different populations and exercise protocols. As science continues to bridge the gap between exercise physiology and dental research, athletes and practitioners should stay tuned for new insights that could revolutionize the way we approach training and performance optimization.