New mouthpiece can reduce stress level after exercise

A customized mouthpiece that rests on the lower mandible can decrease levels of serum cortisol after exercise, thus reducing stress levels following strenuous activity and potentially providing a more rapid recovery after intense muscle exertion, according to new research presented at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting this week in San Diego.

Researchers from the department of health, exercise, and sport science at The Citadel and the department of health and human performance from the College of Charleston studied 13 college-age males.

Study participants wore the custom-made mouthpieces, which allowed the lower jaw to move down and slightly forward when teeth were clenched due to a wedge-shaped design, during one exercise session and did not wear the mouthpiece during the other.

All participants completed two identical exercise trials, separated by seven days. Blood was collected immediately before, during, and immediately after each event and during three subsequent periods during recovery (30, 60 and 120 minutes post-exercise). The samples were analyzed for physiological changes in cortisol.

Researchers found no difference in preexercise cortisol levels between the groups. However, the group that wore the mouthpiece had lower cortisol levels at the midpoint and 30 minutes after exercise. No differences were found immediately after exercise or at the 60- or 120-minute marks.

"The findings are important because decreasing the cortisol response after exercise may lead to a quicker recovery time, which is an important consideration for those who train daily, such as competitive athletes," said study author Wes Dudgeon PhD. "The findings also show the potential to enhance exercise performance without the use of drugs or supplements."

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