Watching football players in action on the field is always a treat, especially when they are competing in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which kicked off this month in Qatar. Now, while enjoying the thrilling matches, have you ever noticed footballers spitting on the field as they play? This behaviour remains common among most football players and there has been much speculation over the reason behind it.
Some think that players spit in a show of aggression and to assert dominance while others believe that the behaviour has something to do with their performance. However, according to experts, there could be some scientific reasons behind the spitting.
Shedding some light on the common practice, Dr Udit Kapoor, senior consultant, Asian Hospital, told The Indian Express that as players engage in demanding physical activities, their saliva tends to thicken up, prompting them to spit it out. The doctor explained that the thickness of the saliva could be due to a mucous called MUC5B. This increased viscosity of the saliva makes it hard for the person to swallow it, the doctor added.
Besides the spitting, you may have also witnessed the players sipping their energy drinks and then spitting it during the game. This is called carb or carbohydrate rinsing. According to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, a number of studies have suggested that rinsing the mouth with a solution containing carbohydrates can help boost performance during high-intensity exercises. In addition, brain imaging studies have shown that rising mouth with carbohydrate can result in “afferent signals capable of modifying motor output.”
In a study conducted on cyclists, the subjects were told to cycle after rinsing their mouth with a non-sweet and tasteless carbohydrate solution. It was observed that the cyclists’ performance improved significantly and the rinsing had the same effect on the subjects as ingesting carbohydrates. While it was not clear if any of the carbohydrate was absorbed in the mouth rinsing, the performance of the subjects was increased by 3% against a 2.3% increase when the cyclists were fed carbohydrate.
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