Effect of Sodium Bicarbonate on Figure Skating Performance

Student: Martine Szanto*
Mentor: Beau Greer
Major: Exercise Science 

Scant research is reported regarding the ergogenic effects of dietary supplements on figure skating performance.  Sodium bicarbonate (SB), commonly known as baking soda, is an established, effective ergogenic aid for anaerobic performance. Therefore, the present study sought to investigate the effect of SB on figure skating performance and rates of perceived exertion (RPE).  In a double-blind, crossover design, eight female figure skaters ingested either 0.3 g/kg bodyweight of SB or placebo (PLAC) 60 minutes prior to performing a previously choreographed two-minute skating routine. Each treatment was co-ingested with 24 ounces of water and artificial flavoring to mask taste.  Skaters repeated procedures seven days later with the alternative treatment.  The skaters were assessed by two Ice Skating Institute (ISI)-certified judges according to ISI judging protocol.  RPE scores were recorded immediately upon completion of the routine. Skating scores were analyzed by a paired t-test, while RPE was analyzed by a Mann-Whitney U; both utilized a p < 0.05 for significance.  Neither figure skating scores (SB: 30.9 ± 1.7, PLAC: 28.7 ± 1.2) nor RPEs (SB: 4.75 ± 2.3, PLAC: 3.75 ± 1.5) were different between conditions (p > 0.05).  However, given the (+) 0.9 effect size, a type II error may have occurred as subject size was limited due to availability and drop-out rate.  Seven of eight skaters reported unpleasant side effects such as shakiness and gastrointestinal distress.  Further research is warranted with larger sample sizes to determine whether the potential benefit of SB (as reflected by effect size) is justified considering the high risk of side effects.

*Honors Senior