30 November 2017

Mapei Sport is exploring futuristic training and testing methods with virtual reality.

The search for new training methods continues unabated at Mapei Sport Research Center.

The structure supported by MAPEI Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of adhesives and building chemicals, is a research center of excellence that operates in the sports field by carrying out scientific research activities and also providing multisectoral assistance to athletes in order to improve their performance.
This year many publications have been signed by Olgiate Olona (Va) researchers, medical and sport technicians and there have been many novelties in the field of training specialized in disciplines such as football, cycling, basketball, run, golf, alpine skiing and motor sports.
A very interesting topic that has begun to be investigated in Mapei Sport is the “attentive” tests through the motion tracking object (MOT) that measure the ability to stay focused and reaction times to athlete stimulation thanks to virtual reality. Experimentation with the VR viewer started with the professional cyclists of Trek Segafredo and Polartec Kometa continental team of Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso.

«We are exploring the field of attention, which offers interesting and absolutely current aspects linked, for example, to the prevention of falls in cycling. Studying an individual’s level of attention is a fascinating challenge that allows us to gather comparative data and carry out analyzes time ago unthinkable. Only a few years ago, people was convinced that the brain could not change its structure, but science today has shown that it is able to do so by means of a process called brain plasticity, building new neuronal connections, and this feature seems to be able to be improved through mental training» explains Andrea Morelli, head of the cycling area and the movement analysis laboratory.

Another topic to which Mapei Sport’s experts are devoting time and energy is blood flow restriction training, which will be the subject of the next study project funded by the 6th research check Aldo Sassi for graduates in motor science promoted by Mapei in collaboration with Giuseppina Mai Foundation of
«For a few years, this technique, used both in rehabilitation and training, has attracted our attention to the benefits that it seems to provide for performance. So, after a careful analysis of the scientific bibliography – as is our habit to verify its feasibility – we started to carry out preliminary laboratory tests and define practical protocols to use them in the acute study that will light in a few months. This was also a key step in evaluating how to apply it to cyclists in total safety. It is important to emphasize that this is a practice work that is now used in workouts aimed at improving strength, so in gym sessions or during post-injury rehabilitation, one of the peculiarities of the method being studied is that it allows workouts with lower loads without risking relapse» continues Andrea Bosio, head of the research field at Mapei Sport.
«In cycling, a sport where we know that the aerobic component is predominant, it is crucial to understand if and how this methodology can be integrated and alongside others in training programs» adds Morelli.

During this season, transcranial stimulation (tDCS) was also evaluated at the center directed by Dr. Claudio Pecci, but it was not considered appropriate, and premature, to start a study on it and, at least, to apply it to professional athletes; a decision taken for ethical reasons, as even though professional athletes have stated that they are using it with far too encouraging results, there is still no clear position from reference authority such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).