Football Sport

Ice bath and its role in recovery of footballers

Doctor’s Corner with Dr JOSEPH KABUNGO
THE best performance from a football player comes in when they work hard and recover well.
Recovery is a very important component of sport participation because of the benefits it offers.
Football has become fast and physical thus making recovery an important aspect.
An ice bath can be used in the recovery process by players and offers wonderful benefits.
In tournament settings such as the Africa Cup of Nations or the World Cup an ice bath could prove to be a difference be-tween success and failure.
During the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea/Gabon, the Zambia national soccer team who were eventually crowned champions benefited a lot from recovery using an ice bath.
The games were tough and it became necessary to come up with a recovery programme that would enable players recover within 72 hours in readiness for the next match.
Immersing a player in ice is not an easy thing to do but because of the benefits it has, that has to be well explained to players. Once a player “tastes” the goodness of an ice bath, it will be them demanding for it.
Fatigue is one important factor that has to be prevented in order to facilitate a smooth and enjoyable participation in football and an ice bath could be an important solution.
After discussing a contrast bath and its benefits regarding recovery, it can also be said in the same line that ice alone can be useful.
The cold therapy or Cryotherapy constricts or narrows down the blood vessels and this results in reduction of metabolic ac-tivity, which reduces swelling and limit tissue damage.
The exposure of the body to ice will result in a rebound kind of phenomenon, which will result in the faster and increased blood circulation once removed from the ice.
This fast blood flow will facilitate the removal of by-products of cellular destruction to the lymph vessels.
The removal of metabolic debris is essential to the quick recovery of the muscles so that a player can get back to activity without fatigue.
After discussing the contrast bath the previous Sunday, it is cardinal to realise that the principles employed are almost similar to that of an ice bath.
In a Contrast bath, it is the issue of getting exposed to hot water followed by cold water.
This facilitates for vasodilatation of the blood vessels when exposed to hot water leading to increased tissue blood flow fol-lowed by vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) when exposed to cold water.
It is this alternating between hot and cold which is said to improve on blood circulation and thus helping in the removal of tis-sue lactic acid.
It is also this alternating from hot to cold, which facilitates in limiting swelling and the actual inflammatory process.
It is important that you focus the ice exposure to the most affected parts.
In football players, the ice could even reach to the waist making the legs fully exposed to the ice and having maximum benefits.
It is important to put the crushed ice or ice cubes in a container such as a drum or any plastic container, which will be able to accommodate one person.
Exposure to ice can be painful at times and observing the time of exposure is of great importance.
Some players are able to tolerate cold exposure from three minutes to five minutes while others two minutes will seem to be such a long time.
In whichever case, it is important that exposure to the ice is adequate and should be at least for three minutes.
If it is a team being managed with an ice bath in a tournament, this can be started right at the stadium in the dressing room.
The ice bath followed by a normal shower with water is extremely beneficial and gives a very relaxing effect.
It is important to remember that once you have been involved in strenuous activities or real competition there is always micro trauma that happens.
The body will need to remove the toxins that accumulate because of this and a good ice bath can be a solution.
For questions and comments write to Dr Kabungo Joseph
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