Today, we look at a novel way to stay cool, even when it’s hot.

It’s very evident that athletes experience heightened physiological and psychological strain when training or competing in the heat. This increased strain on the body often results in poorer performances on the field, track or road.

Menthol is a compound that imparts a sensation of cooling, freshness and nasal opening (airflow) through stimulation of the body’s ‘cold temperature sensor’.

This is done by interacting with the trigeminal nerve…in case you were wondering.

Therefore, menthol supplementation could be a valuable strategy when competing in hot environments as the perception of heat can cause discomfort and negatively impact performance (Stevens and Best, 2017).

Menthol can be applied externally via the skin to enhance performance, although the research isn’t overly convincing in this area….but could have some benefit for mediating inflammation.

However, when menthol is consumed via a gel, drink or mouth rinse (swill and spit), it can also lower your perceived cardiopulmonary exertion and have arousing properties which can further enhance performance.

Essentially, it can make you feel cooler, even when you’re hot(er) – Similar to splashing your face with cold water or sticking your head of out the car window when you’re drowsy…

When athletes mouth rinse menthol intermittently throughout cycling and running (every 1k or every 10 mins), it appears to be superior to other well establish cooling strategies for enhancing endurance performance in the heat.

Even when menthol beverages are consumed (not mouth rinsed) prior to and during an endurance events, it still appears to enhance performance when compared to other cooling strategies such as ice slurries.

However, when you make the method beverage cold (~3 degrees vs 23 degrees Celsius) it can further improve endurance performances by 3-9%.

Therefore, your best ‘bang for your buck’ would be to combine menthol with ice slurry’s. However, athletes typically don’t finish all their ice slurries as they are ironically too cold…

Long story short, just make the menthol beverage cold.

Even though research is in its infancy, menthol use does support endurance exercise tolerance in the heat. I would also speculate that menthol use has utility for team sports during the summer months also…

Pretty cool ei?!

Whilst you’re here…If you’re an elite athlete and find this content interesting, but don’t quite know how to apply it to maximise your performance and take your athletic development to the next level, I can 100% help you through my Athlete Coaching Programme. Click the shiny orange button below to find out more.

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