Int J Sports Med 2020; 41(03): 161-167
DOI: 10.1055/a-1062-6520
Training & Testing
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Skin Application of 4% Menthol Enhances Running Performance in Hot and Humid Climate

1   EA 6310 ‘HAVAE’: Handicap, Activité, Vieillissement, Autonomie, Exercice, Limoges University, Limoges, France
2   EA 3596 ‘ACTES’: Adaptation, Climat Tropical, Exercice et Santé, Universite des Antilles et de la Guyane, Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe
3   UMR INSERM U1272: Hypoxie & Poumon, Paris 13 University - Bobigny Campus, Bobigny, France
Aurelie Collado
2   EA 3596 ‘ACTES’: Adaptation, Climat Tropical, Exercice et Santé, Universite des Antilles et de la Guyane, Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe
Olivier Hue
2   EA 3596 ‘ACTES’: Adaptation, Climat Tropical, Exercice et Santé, Universite des Antilles et de la Guyane, Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe
› Author Affiliations
Funding: This work was supported by the « Programme Opérationnel - Fonds Européen de Développement Régional » (PO-FEDER) under grant 2015-FED-213, GP0008037.
Further Information

Publication History

accepted 03 November 2019

Publication Date:
05 January 2020 (online)


Aerobic performance is negatively impacted by tropical climate due to impairment of thermoregulatory mechanisms. We tested the hypothesis that a torso application of a 4% menthol solution would have the same effect on a best performance 10-km run as an external use of cold water. Thirteen trained male athletes completed four outdoor 10-km runs (T=29.0±1.3°C, relative humidity 59.0±13.6%) wearing a tee-shirt soaked every 2-km either in a cold (~6°C) or warm/ambient (~28°C) solution, consisting in water or in a 4% menthol solution, (CTL, MENT-Amb, CLD and MENT-CLD). Run performances were improved from 4.8 to 6.1% in CLD (51.4±5.5 min), MENT-Amb (52.2±5.9 min) and MENT-CLD (51.4±5.1 min) conditions (vs. CTL, 55.4±8.4 min, P<0.05), without differences between these three conditions, whereas heart rate (177±13bpm), body temperature (38.7±0.6°C) and drink ingestion (356±170 g) were not modified. Thermal sensation after running was lower in MENT-CLD (vs. CTL, P<0.01) and thermal acceptability was higher in CLD and MENT-Amb (vs. CTL, P<0.05), but thermal comfort, feeling scale and rate of perceived exertion remained unchanged. The use of menthol on skin enhances aerobic performance in a tropical climate, and no differences in performance were observed between menthol and traditional percooling strategies. However, combining both menthol and traditional percooling brought no further improvements.

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