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Sports Medicine – Load Tests

Load tests are used to determine both the physical capacity of a sportsman and the reaction of an organism (physiological and pathological) to load. While capacity determination is utilized for objectification of the training process, the organism's reaction to load can reveal certain hidden diseases (heart rhythm disorders, disorders of electrical conduction system of the heart, adverse reactions of bronchi to load, etc., etc.). Load tests are thus able to reveal most risk factors that can contribute to health damage (or sudden death) of active sportsmen. Load tests reveal ecg changes and possible ischaemic heart disease. For a load test to be of maximum benefit to a sportsman, the client (sportsman) needs to be relaxed at the time of testing, i.e. it should not follow demanding training. A last light meal should be eaten about 2 hours before testing. The test simulates physical load and therefore a client should bring his/her own sportswear, shoes (cyclists may bring their SPD trainers) and hygienic equipment including a towel, as there is a possibility to take a shower after the test.

The examination consists of physical examination (weight, height, body mass index) and anamnesis analysis based on a questionnaire. The questionnaire is approved by the International Olympic Committee and can be downloaded from our website.

After analysis of the questionnaire by a physician, the client undergoes a comprehensive examination aimed at the vascular and respiratory system and basic examination to foreclose muscular dysbalances. The next stages are static ecg and static spirometric examinations. The load stage of the examination consists of spiroergometric examination on an exercise bicycle ergometer. The initial low warm-up load is gradually increased to the maximum tolerated load. Of course, if any health problems occur during the load test, the examination is interrupted.

Spiroergometric or load testing is designed for all sportspeople including the recreational (e.g. before cycling holiday). The main purpose of such examinations is the elimination of hidden health conditions which might lead to deterioration of the health of sportsmen (including sudden death).

The overall examination takes approximately 40-50 minutes and the load test on an ergometer around 8-12 minutes. If the client requires it, we can supply a lactate curve iand interpret it for use in the training process. If deviations are detected during the examination, the client is recommended for specialized examinations, e.g. echocardiography, traumatology, orthopaedic, etc.

The examination results are then communicated to the client (or to parents of those under age, possibly to a coach as well if required) so that they can be utilized in the training process (e.g. optimum pulse rate for development of perseverance or adipose tissue reduction. With this latter, muscles are stretched, strengthening them and avoiding deepening muscle dysbalances, etc.).

Examination is typically carried out once a year or more often in the case of perseverance sports. Frequency is dependent on training cycles. It is recommended that examinations are repeated as health condition and capacity can change in time. Optimum pulse rate will assist in the development of perseverance.