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Biomarkers in Sports and Exercise: Tracking Health, Performance, and Recovery in Athletes

Lee, Elaine C.1; Fragala, Maren S.2; Kavouras, Stavros A.3; Queen, Robin M.4; Pryor, John Luke5; Casa, Douglas J.1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: October 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 10 - p 2920–2937
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002122
Brief Review

Abstract: Lee, EC, Fragala, MS, Kavouras, SA, Queen, RM, Pryor, JL, and Casa, DJ. Biomarkers in sports and exercise: tracking health, performance, and recovery in athletes. J Strength Cond Res 31(10): 2920–2937, 2017—Biomarker discovery and validation is a critical aim of the medical and scientific community. Research into exercise and diet-related biomarkers aims to improve health, performance, and recovery in military personnel, athletes, and lay persons. Exercise physiology research has identified individual biomarkers for assessing health, performance, and recovery during exercise training. However, there are few recommendations for biomarker panels for tracking changes in individuals participating in physical activity and exercise training programs. Our approach was to review the current literature and recommend a collection of validated biomarkers in key categories of health, performance, and recovery that could be used for this purpose. We determined that a comprehensive performance set of biomarkers should include key markers of (a) nutrition and metabolic health, (b) hydration status, (c) muscle status, (d) endurance performance, (e) injury status and risk, and (f) inflammation. Our review will help coaches, clinical sport professionals, researchers, and athletes better understand how to comprehensively monitor physiologic changes, as they design training cycles that elicit maximal improvements in performance while minimizing overtraining and injury risk.

1Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut;

2Quest Diagnostics, Madison, New Jersey;

3Department of Health, Human Performance, & Recreation, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas;

4Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia; and

5Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Fresno, California

Address correspondence to Dr. Elaine C. Lee,

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Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.