Caleb Raab, Benjamin Knight, Kimbo Yee, Dena Garner. The Citadel, Charleston, SC.

BACKGROUND: Recently, studies have focused on the use of oral appliances to improve anaerobic and aerobic physical performance. Within our laboratory we have sought to delineate if these improvements are physiological by measuring respiratory parameters during steady state exercise. The results of these studies have generally supported prior studies, citing lowered respiratory rate (approximately 8%-10% lower) with the use of an oral appliance. The purpose of this pilot study was to assess the effects of a lower oral appliance on respiratory parameters during a maximal exercise protocol. METHODS: Data from six male subjects between the ages of 18-21 was used for this pilot study. Subjects were fitted with a lower oral appliance, which has two bite pads and a tongue bar to encourage the subjects to place their tongue on the floor of their mouth. Using a crossover design, subjects completed two trials of a maximal modified Bruce treadmill protocol on two separate days with a minimum of five days between tests. Subjects were randomly assigned the use of the oral appliance/mouthpiece (MP) or no oral appliance/mouthpiece (No MP) control condition during the maximal tests. VO2 max, ventilatory efficiency (i.e., VE/VCO2), and respiratory rate were continuously assessed with a ParvoMedics indirect calorimeter. In addition, rate of perceived exertion (RPE) was obtained at the end of the test. Paired samples t-tests were used to evaluate differences between MP versus No MP conditions. RESULTS: No differences in VO2 max (52.63 ml/kg/min MP vs. 53.4 ml/kg/min No MP) nor RPE (7.5 RPE MP vs. 7.8 RPE No MP) were found. The slope of VE/VCO2 data within the first five minutes of the test cited a lowered rate of change in the MP condition as compared to the No MP condition. Respiratory rate did not differ between conditions across the total time of the test but was lower in the first five minutes during the MP condition (14.84 BPM MP vs. 16.60 BPM No MP). There were no significant differences between conditions across overall time, yet the first five minutes of the testing provided interesting findings as it relates to VE/VCO2 and respiratory rate differences. Additionally, the use of the oral appliance did not impair the performance in any of the subjects except for one subject. CONCLUSIONS: Further testing with a variety of runners and experience is warranted to determine if any of these trends continue.

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