Relieving thermal discomfort: Effects of sprayed L-menthol on perception, performance, and time trial cycling in the heat

Martin Barwood, Jo Corbett, Kevin Thomas, P. Twentyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

L-menthol stimulates cutaneous thermoreceptors and induces cool sensations improving thermal comfort, but has been linked to heat storage responses; this could increase risk of heat illness during self-paced exercise in the heat. Therefore, L-menthol application could lead to a discrepancy between behavioral and autonomic thermoregulatory drivers. Eight male participants volunteered. They were familiarized and then completed two trials in hot conditions (33.5 °C, 33% relative humidity) where their t-shirt was sprayed with CONTROL-SPRAY or MENTHOL-SPRAY after 10 km (i.e., when they were hot and uncomfortable) of a 16.1-km cycling time trial (TT). Thermal perception [thermal sensation (TS) and comfort (TC)], thermal responses [rectal temperature (Trec), skin temperature (Tskin)], perceived exertion (RPE), heart rate, pacing (power output), and TT completion time were measured. MENTHOL-SPRAY made participants feel cooler and more comfortable and resulted in lower RPE (i.e., less exertion) yet performance was unchanged [TT completion: CONTROL-SPRAY 32.4 (2.9) and MENTHOL-SPRAY 32.7 (3.0) min]. Trec rate of increase was 1.40 (0.60) and 1.45 (0.40) °C/h after CONTROL-SPRAY and MENTHOL-SPRAY application, which were not different. Spraying L-menthol toward the end of self-paced exercise in the heat improved perception, but did not alter performance and did not increase heat illness risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-218
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Volume25
Issue numberS1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

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