The effects of acute alcohol consumption on muscular performance and recovery after exercise : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Sport and Exercise Science at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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The acute consumption of alcohol after sport, particularly team sport, is common place. Indeed, sportspeople regularly consume hazardous levels of alcohol at rates significantly higher than non-sportspeople during this period. Much focus is given to behaviours that may enhance the rate of recovery after sport/exercise however little attention has been given to behaviours that may have the opposite, negative effect such as alcohol consumption. Further, while it is widely recommended that alcohol consumption be avoided if damage/injury to skeletal muscle is present little direct evidence exists to support this recommendation. As acute post-eccentric exercise alcohol consumption has previously been shown to impact the magnitude of force loss associated with such exercise, the overall purpose of this thesis was to further investigate the interaction between acute alcohol consumption and damage to skeletal muscle. Within this thesis the consumption of 1 g, but not 0.5 g, of alcohol per kg bodyweight was found to magnify the force loss typically observed in the days after laboratory based, eccentrically biased exercise. This affect was shown to be due to a combination of decreased neural drive and alterations at the muscle level in the days following the damaging event. Investigation into the effect of alcohol on recovery from an ecologically valid game simulation found that acute alcohol consumption and the stresses induced by a rugby match may interact to reduce lower body power output in the days after the match. Other sports specific performance measures, testosterone and cortisol, and markers of immunoendocrine function were unaffected by this combination. In conclusion, the findings presented in this thesis provide evidence that the consumption of alcohol, even at volumes considerably less than those regularly consumed by sportspeople, has deleterious effects on muscle function when consumed soon after strenuous eccentric exercise. This affect is not seen with a lower dose of alcohol or with modest levels of muscle damage. Important to the wider sporting community, these data support the recommendation of limiting alcohol consumption when damage/injury to skeletal muscle has occurred.
Content of this thesis previously published as: ch. 5. Barnes, M. J., Mündel, T., & Stannard, S. R. (2010). Post-exercise alcohol ingestion exacerbates eccentric-exercise induced losses in performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 108(5), 1009-1014. ch. 6. Barnes, M. J., Mündel, T., & Stannard, S.R. (2011). A low dose of alcohol does not impact skeletal muscle performance after exercise-induced muscle damage. European Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 111(4), 725-729. ch. 7. Barnes, M. J., Mündel, T., & Stannard, S.R. (2012). The effects of acute alcohol consumption and eccentric muscle damage on neuromuscular function. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 37(1), 63-71. ch. 8. Barnes, M. J., Mündel, T., & Stannard, S.R. (2012). The effects of acute alcohol consumption on recovery from a simulated rugby match. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30(3), 295-304.
Exercise, Muscles, Muscle physiology, Athletes, Alcohol use