October 20, 2020

Experts endorse the use of a mask in sport



The Spanish Society of Sports Medicine and the General Council of Official Medical Associations, through the Advisory Group on SARS-CoV2 infection, has issued a statement on the need to use the mask in sports practice as an essential means of controlling the spread of infection.

In their analysis, both insist that the practice of physical activity and sport is very beneficial for health, but sport, from the point of view of coronavirus, has two “huge drawbacks” that can favor its spread and that are the contact between athletes and the high increase in pulmonary ventilation.

Therefore, he points out that it is recommended wear a new mask for every training session or competition and change the mask in case it gets wet or dirty.

The possible decrease in performance due to the use of masks in sports practice has also been analyzed, and as happens in many aspects of this disease, lavailable scientific information is scarce due to the recent appearance of the disease and the difficulty of conducting studies in many areas of knowledge of the pandemic, but there is already a recent study (Fikenzer S. et al) that analyzes the effects of the use of surgical masks and FFP2 on maximum effort in healthy adults compared to those without the use of masks.

This explains that the studied subjects each performed three maximum stress tests (without a mask, with a surgical mask and with a FFP2 mask).

The response of cardiorespiratory, metabolic, performance and comfort parameters was studied and it was found that, while the use of the FFP2 masks significantly decreased practically all the parameters studied, the use of surgical masks did not affect more than some comfort parameters (cheat, resistance to breathing, itching, pressure, discomfortn).

Semed recalls that although it is less known, there is increasing awareness that the increase in pulmonary ventilation due to exertion, that is, the air that is inhaled and exhaled with each breath is “very large.”

Specifically, from the 6-7 liters that ventilate the lungs at rest, it is possible to ventilate 100-150 liters per minute in intense effort, up to 200-250 liters per minute that a high-level athlete ventilates in maximum effort.

This situation means that an enclosed area can receive hundreds of liters of air from various athletes who are training, which is used again by themselves. If one of those athletes is a carrier, “in all likelihood, it will infect some or all of his classmates”.

Given the evolution of the pandemic, which is very unfavorable in terms of the spread of the virus, together with the opening of sports facilities and centers, it is clear that measures must be taken to prevent the spread of the virus and new infections.

In this sense, remember that sport is an activity highly demanded by the population and that although it offers great health benefits, from the point of view of this disease it has two enormous drawbacks in the transmission of the infection, which are, the contact and physical closeness between the athletes and the high increase in pulmonary ventilation.

In its statement, Semed advocates along with the recommendation of known protection measures for normal life (social distance, cleanliness and use of masks), complementary protection measures should be implemented in the practice of sport, of which the most important that It must be added to those already known, it is the use of a mask in sports practice, especially in closed rooms.

It also explains that due to the lack of knowledge about the use and incidence of the mask, Semed Sport together with the San Antonio de Murcia Catholic University (UCAM), have initiated a study on the consequences of its use in effort in athletes of various sports.

Among the recommendations made by Semed and the General Council of Official Medical Associations, they emphasize that no side effects have been found with the use of the mask, at rest or during exercise, provided it is used properly, they also consider that the use of a surgical mask is a very important measure in the practice of non-professional physical and sports activity, especially in closed areas and in physical contact activities.

Both entities call for the responsibility of all citizens, including athletes, to take extreme measures for the prevention and spread of the virus and in case of not being able to assume the proposed prevention measures, the athlete must refrain from training or competing with other people.

For all these reasons, they emphasize that the “ideal” from a medical and sanitary point of view, at this time of the pandemic with the current unfavorable epidemiological situation, is avoiding contact and fighting sports, until the situation normalizes.

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