Mechanistic Insights into the Efficacy of Sodium Bicarbonate Supplementation to Improve Athletic Performance
OPEN Sports medicine - open | 18 Oct 2016
JC Siegler, PW Marshall, D Bishop, G Shaw and S Green
A large proportion of empirical research and reviews investigating the ergogenic potential of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) supplementation have focused predominately on performance outcomes and only speculate about underlying mechanisms responsible for any benefit. The aim of this review was to critically evaluate the influence of NaHCO3 supplementation on mechanisms associated with skeletal muscle fatigue as it translates directly to exercise performance. Mechanistic links between skeletal muscle fatigue, proton accumulation (or metabolic acidosis) and NaHCO3 supplementation have been identified to provide a more targeted, evidence-based approach to direct future research, as well as provide practitioners with a contemporary perspective on the potential applications and limitations of this supplement. The mechanisms identified have been broadly categorised under the sections ‘Whole-body Metabolism’, ‘Muscle Physiology’ and ‘Motor Pathways’, and when possible, the performance outcomes of these studies contextualized within an integrative framework of whole-body exercise where other factors such as task demand (e.g. large vs. small muscle groups), cardio-pulmonary and neural control mechanisms may outweigh any localised influence of NaHCO3. Finally, the ‘Performance Applications’ section provides further interpretation for the practitioner founded on the mechanistic evidence provided in this review and other relevant, applied NaHCO3 performance-related studies.
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