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A high-intensity warm-up increases thermal strain but does not affect repeated sprint performance in athletes with a cervical spinal cord injury

journal contribution
posted on 21.07.2021, 07:52 by Tom OBrien, Simon Briley, Barry Mason, Christof Leicht, Keith Tolfrey, Vicky Goosey-Tolfrey
Purpose: To compare the effects of typical competition versus high-intensity intermittent warm-up (WU) on thermoregulatory responses and repeated sprint performance during wheelchair rugby (WR) gameplay. Methods: An intermittent sprint protocol (ISP) simulating the demands of WR was performed by male WR players (7 with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) and 8 without SCI (NON-SCI)) following two WU protocols. These included a typical competition WU (CON) and a WU consisting of high-intensity efforts (INT). Core temperature (Tcore), thermal sensation and thermal comfort were recorded. Wheelchair performance variables associated to power, speed, and fatigue were also calculated. Results: During the WU, Tcore was similar between conditions for both groups. During the ISP, a higher Tcore was found for SCI compared with NON-SCI (38.1±0.3 vs 37.7±0.3℃: p=0.036, d=0.75), and the SCI group experienced a higher peak Tcore for INT compared with CON (39.0±0.4 vs 38.6±0.6; p=0.004). Peak Tcore occurred later in the ISP for players with SCI (96±5.8 vs 48±2.7 min; p<0.001). All players reported a higher thermal sensation and thermal comfort following INT (p<0.001), with no differences between conditions throughout the ISP. No significant differences were found in wheelchair performance variables during the ISP between conditions (p≥0.143). Conclusions: The high-intensity WU increased thermal strain in the SCI group during the ISP, potentially due to increased metabolic heat production and impaired thermoregulation, whilst not impacting on repeated sprint performance. It may be advisable to limit high-intensity bouts during a WU in players with SCI to mitigate issues related to hyperthermia in subsequent performance.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance


Human Kinetics


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

Accepted author manuscript version reprinted, by permission, from International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2021 (ahead of print). © Human Kinetics, Inc. [or copyright notice shown in journal, if different]

Acceptance date







Prof Vicky Tolfrey. Deposit date: 20 July 2021

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