Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ice Bath for Fun (not so much) and Performance
The 'why' of ice baths

"The real key, as Allen pointed out in the ESPN show, was getting an athlete's temperature down to normal levels quickly. Rather than diverting energy to cooling down, the athlete's body can get to work on repair that much faster. Moreover, Casa said, they can better do the things necessary to recovery.
"When you are talking about a large individual like a lineman, it could take an hour or two for their body temperature to return to normal," Casa said. "He’s going to drink better, eat better and rest better the sooner he can get cooler."
"And while the experience of dropping your body temperature from 100 plus to something more in the ballpark of normal might feel downright agonizing, it isn’t particularly dangerous for a healthy athlete, Casa said. "The real danger is if he's overheating."
"In the ESPN special, quarterback Greg McElroy commented that Alabama had only started doing post practice ice baths "over the past couple years." That dovetails with Casa's observation that the poiularity of the procedure had grown substantially nationwide over the past few years.
"Other college teams that regularly use post-practice ice baths include TCU, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Ohio State. And since the Crimson Tide has resorted to using them, the number of injuries during fall practice seems too have ebbed somewhat.
"While there are the usual litany of lingering, nagging ailments there has been a paucity of those dreaded long-term injuries that we live in fear of during this part of the year. This, as our own OTS points out, is also due to Coach Saban’s emphasis on thud drills that avoid actual to-the-ground tackling outside of scrimmages.
"Yet that aside, there's another reason to use the ice baths that does have the science behind it -- to increase performance. And the improvement in that department is evident every Saturday the Crimson Tide takes to the field.
"Obviously, the key to Alabama’s conditioning and strength advances lay in Coach Cochran’s distinctive approach to his personal fiefdom. Yet ice baths are a key part of that for exactly the reason Allen pointed out -- they shorten recovery allowing athletes to get additional quality workouts in over the same amount of time."

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