Effects of Caffeine on Balance in Dancers Following Fatiguing Cycle Exercise
Dr. Maureen Dunn
The effects of caffeine on postural control have been underexplored. Since balance is a key component to dance performance, studying the effects of caffeine on postural control could be beneficial to the dancer population especially under fatiguing conditions. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of caffeine ingestion (5mg/kg) on balance performance in collegiate dancers after a cycle ergometer fatigue test. It was hypothesized that caffeine ingestion would improve balance postfatigue, measured by decreased center of pressure (COP) path length and area during unilateral quiet standing or increased Star Excursion Balance test (SEBT) scores compared to placebo. Eleven female Hope College dancers participated in this double blind, counterbalanced study. Balance was assessed pre and post-fatiguing cycling exercise under conditions with (CAF) and without caffeine (PBO). Results indicated that caffeine increased average cycling time to fatigue (PBO: 6:47±0.04 seconds, CAF: 7:00±0.03 seconds, p=.035). There was a significant decrease in balance performance post-fatigue as measured by COP path length during 20s of unilateral quiet standing with eyes open (pre: 97.7±1.9 cm, post: 112.4±2.4 cm, p=.000) and eyes closed (pre: 177.1±7.6, post: 206.0±8.5, p=.008). There was also a significant decrease in balance under caffeine conditions for eyes open COP path length (CAF: 108.0±2.1, PBO: 102.1±2.5 cm, p=.04), eyes closed COP path length (CAF: 199.6±6.5 cm, PBO: 183.5±7.7 cm, p=.002) and eyes closed COP area (CAF: 26.6±2.2 cm2, PBO: 22.3±2.2 cm2, p=.01) during unilateral quiet standing. No change occurred in eyes open COP area or SEBT scores as a result of caffeine intake. There was no interaction between trial conditions and time (pre vs. post). Contrary to the hypothesis, caffeine increased postural sway during unilateral quiet standing, but had no effect on SEBT. Therefore, dancers should not be advised to consume caffeine before performances as a method of enhancing balance.
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