Young athletes in rural areas such as Western Nebraska are, more and more frequently, being asked to perform and train on consecutive days, month after month, as they transition from one sport to the next. This continuous exertion takes a toll on the body. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to most, but what can we do about it?
A 2008 study of elite level cyclists in Australia indicated that cold water immersion therapy and contrast water therapy did enhance performance over the five day trial period. The cold water immersion was a 59 degree Fahrenheit bath for 14 minutes after activity. The contrast water therapy was a cold water immersion for 1 minute followed by a 100 degree Fahrenheit bath for 1 minute and repeated for a total of 7 cycles equaling 14 minutes.
The authors note that more research is needed but this study does seem to indicate that our athletes can maintain and sometimes improve their performance on multiple consecutive days with an easy, low tech solution. The average temperature for cold tap water is 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit, so the next time you or your young athlete has a strenuous workout and has to do it again tomorrow try drawing a cool bath and see what it does for your recovery! Use caution and start out slow. Do not try this if you have a heart or circulatory condition.
For the full journal article: Vaile, J., Halson, S., Gill, N., & Dawson, B. (2008). Effect of Hydrotherapy on Recovery from Fatigue. Int J Sports Med ,29(7), 539-544. doi:10.1055/s-2007-989267