From Ergo Log
Note: Paracetamol is the European naming for acetaminophen
What's the chance of paracetamol ending up on the list of doping substances? It could happen, you're likely to think after reading the study that sports scientists at the University of Bedfordshire, England are about to publish in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. The Brits discovered that paracetamol probably improves team players' explosiveness and speed, and may help endurance athletes to speed up their final sprint.
Giving paracetamol to cyclists results in them performing better during a time trial, but nothing is yet known about the effects of paracetamol administration on short and intensive bursts of exertion. That's why the British researchers performed an experiment with 9 male students who were recreational athletes.
Half an hour after taking 1.5 g paracetamol the subjects were put on an ergometer, where they did eight 30-second sprints with two-minute rests between sprints. On another occasion the researchers repeated the procedure, but then they gave the subjects a placebo.
The subjects had faster speeds for all sprints after taking paracetamol. The further they were in the session, the less power they had, but the reduction was less after they had taken paracetamol.
Without paracetamol the subjects produced an average of 372 Watt per sprint. With paracetamol the figure was 391 Watt – almost 5 percent more.
The figure above explains how athletes can generate more power during their sprints after taking paracetamol. During the last sprint in the series the subjects' heartbeat rose, indicating that their exertion was greater.
"In agreement with Mauger et al. (2010), we suggest that participants were better able to tolerate the pain usually associated with high-intensity exercise, and this resulted in an improved work rate towards the end of the test", the researchers conclude.
The researchers are not sure how paracetamol inhibits pain stimuli during exertion. One possibility is that paracetamol enhances the effect of serotonin in the brain, they theorise. They think that once this mechanism is understood, scientists will learn how athletes can enhance their performance.
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print].