The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team. This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.
Today’s Tip of the Day has to do with a popular (or, depending on who you ask, unpopular) method of recovery and regeneration, ice baths. The basic premise of ice baths is simple: ice decreases inflammation and the painful bi-products of intense exercise, and the best way to decrease total body inflammation is to submerge the entire body – or at least the entire body from the waist down – in ice cold water. While the ice is cold and a bit unpleasant at first, ice baths are probably the most effective way to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness in athletes. The scientific term for ice baths is ‘cryotherapy’. There have been numerous studies, including some recent one done on female soccer players, that have reported significant increases in muscle strength and power when using cryotherapy following training, as opposed to just resting. During pre-season, when training load (volume, and intensity) are very high, ice baths can be a life saver (and leg saver)!
Follow this simple ice bath protocol to help recover better:
- Buy 2-3 bags of ice from a gas station
- fill a bathtub with cold water, then put the ice in the water
- use a thermometer to measure the water temperature; if it’s between 8-12 degrees Celsius, hop in!
- lay in the water so that only the head and shoulders are above water, and keep the legs stretched out and relaxed
- stay in this position for a minimum of 5, and maximum of 10 minutes
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.