Air Travel and Compex
Matt Jaggard, Head of Strength and Conditioning with the Delgado and Lee Pro Tennis Academy tells us about the negative effects of air travel and how to negate these effects to maximise performance on arrival.
E-Book: International Travel and Tournament Preparation for Tennis
LinkedIn: Matt Jaggard
Air Travel and Improving Athlete Readiness with Compex
If you are an athlete competing at the top then it is highly likely that you will be exposed to a vast amount of international air travel. Travel days are not easy and they are certainly not rest or recovery days which is a point of view I have come across all too often.
Travelling has the potential to, and almost definitely will have an effect on your physiological and psychological state. The research is clear in demonstrating this with both short-haul and long-haul travel.
|Direction of travel||Time Zones Crossed||Flight Time||Findings|
|N/A||0||1hr||Enhanced cardiovascular stress. Heart Rate, Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure, Rate Pressure Product (Heart Rate x Systolic blood pressure) and Mean Blood Pressure all altered significantly. Psychological and physiological stress contributing to travel fatigue|
|East||6||9hrs 20m||Autonomic Nervous System activity assessed via Spectral Analysis of HRV. Reduced function on arrival, full volume and intensity recommended after 3 days|
|East||5||7hrs 50m||Athletic function only effected on days 3, 4 & 5. Measures back to baseline on day 6. Delayed effect.|
|West||7||11hrs 30m||Autonomic Nervous System activity assessed via Spectral Analysis of HRV. Delayed effects of travel, reduced volume and intensity recommended for day 3|
|East & West||7||15hrs 30m||Irrespective of travel direction, reduced maximal sprint and counter movement jump performance was evident up to day 3 and 4 following travel, respectively|
Fig 1. Psychological and physiological information collected on various flight lengths and directions. 1, 2, 3, 4
As you can see from the table above, athlete readiness can be immediately reduced after what seems like a simple 1hr commercial flight. Addition to a number of performance markers are heavily effected for up to 5 days following longer flights.
Competition normally start just days after arriving at a new destination. This means negating the negative effects associated with air travel should be the number one priority for all athletes. Therefore, this will help improve readiness on arrival and reduce the need to manage travel fatigue and drastically alter training plans prior to competition.
Combating the negative effects of travel and aiding athlete readiness
Compex recovery and massage programs which help increase blood flow are available on all Compex Muscle Stim products. This can be effective both during and after short or long haul flights.
Research has shown that whilst using Compex devices, frequencies between 3-9 Hz can demonstrate a 181-276% increase in blood flow5. Moreover, this will help combat the thrombosis experienced during air travel. As a result, this helps to negate negative physiological effects associated with travel and improve athlete readiness on arrival.
To explore international travel in more detail, looking at how to adapt to perform when acclimatising to heat, altitude or after crossing multiple time zones you can learn more from Matt’s book ‘International Travel and Tournament Preparation for Tennis’ with the general principles applying to all athletes and sports.
 Oliveira-Silva, I., Leicht, A. S., Moraes, M. R., Simões, H. G., Del Rosso, S., Córdova, C., & Boullosa, D. A. (2016). Heart rate and cardiovascular responses to commercial flights: relationships with physical fitness. Frontiers in physiology, 7, 648.
2 Botek, M., Stejskal, P., & Svozil, Z. (2009). Autonomic nervous system activity during acclimatization after rapid air travel across time zones: A case study. Acta Gymnica, 39(2), 13-21.
3 Fowler, P. M., Knez, W., Crowcroft, S., Mendham, A. E., Miller, J., Sargent, C. H. A. R. L. I., ... & Duffield, R. (2017). Greater effect of east versus west travel on jet lag, sleep, and team sport performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
4 Thornton, H. R., Miller, J., Taylor, L., Sargent, C., Lastella, M., & Fowler, P. M. (2018). Impact of short-compared to long-haul international travel on the sleep and wellbeing of national wheelchair basketball athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences, 36(13), 1476-1484.
5 Zicot, M., & Rigaux, P. (1995). Effect of the frequency of neuromuscular electric stimulation of the leg on femoral arterial blood flow. Journal des Maladies Vasculaires, 20(1), 9-13.