High-intensity training can often be a cruel master -- capable of provoking a
mixture of sweat and tears, as well as occasional mishap and mental frailty --
but how much worse must it be when knowing that the worst part comes at the end?
That's when an exhausted athlete, after hours of physical exertion, has to
clamber into a vat of iced water -- perhaps giving new meaning to the phrase
'on the rocks'.
During her heyday, Paula Radcliffe, who still holds the world record for the
marathon she ran in 2003, revealed how she dreaded the baths, which the
Briton termed "absolute agony".
So Radcliffe may have mixed emotions about a recent report which pours cold
water on the efficacy of a concept already quite literally swimming in the
The European Journal of Sports Science suggests the benefits of the ice bath
-- a technique which has been used in numerous sports disciplines
(track-and-field, soccer, NFL, cricket, rugby and tennis to name but a few)
-- are highly questionable.
More worryingly still, the scientists who led an experiment into cold water
immersion at the University of Portsmouth suggest the practice could be a
"possible threat to people's health" as well.
In theory, the recovery device -- whose by-products include a whole lot of
gnashing, squealing and wailing -- is thought to reduce inflammation,
swelling, muscle spasms and pain but the benefits have been disputed by the
scientists on England's south coast.
Their test involved 40 athletes undertaking an hour and a half of
intermittent shuttle running before being split into four groups for the
recovery period: with 10 standing in cold water, 10 standing in warm water
and 10 simply walking slowly -- all over a 12-minute period -- while the
final group sat in cold water for just two minutes.
Measuring muscle performance before exercise and at frequent intervals in
the days afterwards, the scientists found "no differences ... between any of
the groups in terms of athletes' perception of pain or in their biochemical
markers of muscle cell damage."
So while not only querying the fundamental validity of the process, lead
author Jo Corbett also highlights the possibility that the intended recovery
aid could -- rather than prove beneficial -- actually take an athlete out of
"Possible health risks of cold water immersion include hyperventilation
leading to metabolic alkalosis [an acid-based disturbance] and, in rare
cases, impaired consciousness," Corbett told CNN.
"There is also some evidence of a reduction in cerebral artery blood flow,
which at very cold water temperatures can cause syncope [fainting]
characterized by drowsiness, blurred vision, and a loss of responsiveness in
Other possible health risks of ice baths, according to Dr Corbett, include
tachycardia [a fast heart beat], arrhythmias [abnormal heart beats],
allergic and anaphylactic shock as well as the development of non-freezing
cold injury [a tissue damage similar to, but lacking the severity of,
In theory, both arrhythmias and anaphylactic shock can have fatal
consequences -- so it's no surprise that Dr Corbett would like to see more
tests into ice baths, even if it must be stressed that no athlete has yet to
suffer in such fashion despite their popularity.
"The prevalence of these risks will likely depend on the way that the
immersion is used -- which is why there needs to be a clear understanding of
the mechanisms of action of cold water immersion.
"The frequency of these symptoms in healthy, asymptomatic individuals is not
clear but may be very low."
Before athletes around the world gain an added spring to their step at the
thought of throwing out the bath water, Corbett advises that the conclusions
of his team's study should not be set in stone-- "particularly when there is
evidence for and against [ice baths]," he says.
Nonetheless, some leading clubs have already been in touch since the
report's publication to pursue further detail on the findings.
In Australia, the Head of Human Performance at leading football side Sydney
FC admits that even though confusion may reign over the longevity of cold
water immersion, given the differing scientific opinions, he does not
foresee the end of this ice age.
"I have learned throughout my career that if a player thinks it works, it
probably does," Dr Craig Duncan, told CNN.
"The placebo affect in sport is significant and if you combine that with a
good performance, it will become a major part of a player's preparation.
This is so for recovery and the feedback I get from players [about ice
-My muscles feel less sore
-I don't feel as heavy, my legs feel lighter
-I feel refreshed
-It's just what I like to do
-I do it because Craig says I have to
Alternatively, if I find a player really gets stressed about it, then there
really is no point as I think it will have little positive effect."
Given this viewpoint, the players at Sydney FC, where former Italy
international Alessandro del Piero is playing following his recent move from
Juventus, may do well to remind Dr Duncan of his failsafe methods of
"Recovery is a massive area with many different views but we can never get
away from the fact that the two key ingredients to positive recovery are
Good Sleep and Sound Nutrition," he says.
So a nice feed followed by a warm bed -- or being immersed into an iced bath
-- to recover.
Hmmm, let me think...
26th April 2013
BETWEEN ARMCHAIR ATHLETES AND SUPERSTARS
From Sascha Drewry, Times Colonist November 1, 2012
The place of sports in our lives and society is amiss. It seems that many of us
have developed an unhealthy relationship with these physical games. Either we're
committing every unit of our being to playing our favorite game, or else we're
giving up playing and are now passionately following along from our couches. To
find the balance of sport in our lives is a delicate act that requires careful
consideration both on a personal and community level.
The True Sport Report, published by Elizabeth Mulholland in conjunction
with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, analyzes the role of sports in
Canadian communities. Promoting healthy aging, enhancing mental health,
preventing chronic disease, enhancing academic achievement, teaching positive
values, reducing health care costs and strengthening community are some of the
positive outcomes Mulholland found from participation in sport.
I grew up playing sports - lacrosse, hockey, basketball, football,
cross-country, rock climbing, mountain biking and swimming.
Whether it was organized or pickup, I loved playing sports and still do. There
is no doubt that without playing sports, I would be a different person.
Mulholland also recognizes that "[Canadians] are worried about too much
aggression, cheating and unfair behaviour. They are worried about
win-at-any-cost attitudes and that too many young people are leaving sport for
the wrong reasons ... and they are worried about the influence of commercial
sport values on the values of community sport."
Something not brought up in Mulholland's study and is rarely discussed is
becoming lost in sport. It's a sad and realistic undertaking when athletes
blindly pursue their chosen sports with such a deep commitment that they forget
about the rest of their lives.
This past summer, I observed and supported a co-worker undergoing this process.
In the spring, Jillian was on track to play on Canada's national rugby team when
during training she damaged her knee. In June, she went to a doctor and was
given an uncertain diagnosis about her rare injury. Plagued by pain, she spent
more time under medical investigation.
Eventually, she was informed that she would never regain the function she once
had and that other people with the same injury deal with it for the course of
I empathized with Jillian as she adapted to her new circumstances. At first, she
fought it and denied the reality of her situation: She was a rugby player, she
had defined herself as this throughout most of her life. Then, after several
months of distress and struggle, she accepted her reality.
She was quite depressed. As the summer ended, Jillian began rediscovering
herself and seeking a new purpose.
No single game is worth jeopardizing our future well-being through physical or
emotional injury. Nor is a game worth detriment to relationships or other
aspects of our livelihood.
As mentioned above, the benefits of playing sports are undeniable. Not for an
instant am I suggesting that we cease or curb participation. However, we ought
to reconsider how we involve ourselves in sport as an athlete, a coach, a
parent or guardian and even as an audience, as we have gone astray.
"There is something seriously afflicted in a nation when it can be argued, with
some pitiful justification, that the average parent would choose having a child
play a single game in the NHL than become a neurosurgeon for life," wrote Roy
MacGre-gor in a Globe and Mail article. MacGregor goes on to explain how the NHL
lockout is beneficial to Canadians - that we will be freed from our obsession.
It seems that even as fans, many of us have become lost in our spectation.
We've forgotten that this pursuit is a game. It's for our amusement or
enjoyment. For the vast majority of us, sports are a step along the way, not the
end objective. We ought to consider our blind devotion as armchair athletes or
Like most things in life, we need to understand the purpose of and find balance
Sascha Drewry of Fern-wood is an ex-Canadian sailing champion, and represented
Canada abroad in junior field lacrosse. Read more:
20th May 2012
By Manya Makoski Our Game magazine
Lifting weights is not just for body builders anymore. Resistance and
strength training are crucial parts of any football player's workout
regimen. Through contractions, muscles complete movements. The stronger the
muscle and the more forceful the muscle contraction, the quicker,
faster,stronger, and more explosive the player can be.
However, a male-infested gym, especially the free-weight area, can be
intimidating and quite a turn off for some female athletes. As a self-professed
gym rat, this is not the case for me. It is fun to laugh at the brewing
bromances crowding the bench press.
But there are some things that get to me. Hence, here are the rules of my MM22
Gym Rat Etiquette for everyone to follow:
*Do not check yourself out in the mirror while flexing, or pretend you are a MMA
fighter and throw a few quick jabs in the air, or pretend to wipe the sweat off
your forehead so I can ogle at your delicious six pack. You look dumb (except
for the abs part), and everyone can see you doing this. Wait until you go home
when you are in privacy to show off your buffness. That is what I do.
*I have headphones on and my "Double Deuce" workout play list blasting for a
reason. Do not bother me or talk to me. I am a hot, sweaty and intense mess in
my zone. Despite the social belief most meatheads have, I am not at the gym to
be hit on. Worst pickup line I have been told? You do not even want to know.
*To the chicken-legged guys who look like they pumped up their traps with air:
yes, I am squatting more than you can. And yes my legs can crack you traps in
half. Please do not be jealous.
*I may sweat more than the average male. OK, I sweat a lot more than every male.
But at least I remember to clean up after I beast out a superset on the bench.
No one wants to lay down in a pool of your protein-infested sweat.
*If you are decked out like you are going out to the dance club, male or
female, just leave. Like right now.
*It is okay to get into your workout. Maybe bust out a few dance moves. No
shame. Rock on.
*Just do not get too into it. You are not as good of a dancer as you think you
*Unless I am trying to bench more than twice my own body weight, no I do not
need a spot.
*Please know how to operate machines and use free weights properly. I frown upon
poor lifting technique.
*I do not care who you are. Do not correct my form. Ever. I know what I am doing
and have been doing it for over 14 years.
*Tone it down with the grunting and screaming. You sound like you are giving
birth to a porcupine. Learn how to breathe properly.
*And oh, stop it with the whining. Gyms are not for people who do not want to
work hard. The weights are not going to pick up themselves.
*Reading any literature on a cardio machine is a big no-no. I once saw a
girl fly off her treadmill and totally eat the floor. A fat, bloody lip and
a black eye is not a cool look.
*Buying a gym membership on January 2? Just do not even bother. Because if I
have to wait for you to figure out how to use the squat rack to do my workout, I
am going to be fuming.
*Do not be rude. Just re-rack your weights when you are done.
*Yes, I am a female. Yes, I am an athlete. Yes, I am in shape. Yes, I am
attractive. Yes, I am lifting weights in your gym. Do not stare at me. I repeat.
Do not stare at me.
1st September 2011
"NICE TRY AND FAILURE" Globe and Mail
On an Ottawa soccer field in late June, Lothar Wulf was
watching his son’s competitive team lose badly. With few exceptions, they
weren’t exactly hustling. On the sidelines, the parents tried to be encouraging.
“Good try,” a few shouted when yet another scoring opportunity passed by.
Finally, Mr. Wulf threw up his hands: Enough with the “nice tries,” he said. Why
can’t parents be more honest with their kids? Better to be realistic and tell
them: “Try harder.”
How many parents, though, are willing to do that? From the
soccer field to the homework table, many parents, seeking to build self-esteem,
are piling on the praise. With all the worry about rising anxiety and stress in
kids, it’s easy to see why so many resort to the loving “good try” lie.
But are all these compliments constructive? And do they
really make kids happy?
Topping out the parenting praise meter may not be the best
move, according to parenting experts. Parents probably wouldn’t be so obsessed
with praising their kids if they weren’t so terrified their children might
actually be – dare we say it? – average, says psychologist Wendy Mogel. Much of
our praise is really about our own expectations and wish fulfilment, suggests
Dr. Mogel, author of The Blessings of a B-minus, and The Blessing
of A Skinned Knee. Every child is gifted, or soon to emerge as gifted, or
hampered by a learning disability that hides their giftedness from the teacher,
who just doesn’t understand them, she notes. So every crayon mark is simply
“extra-ordinary, honey!” (Otherwise, tragically, it would just be ordinary.)
To help parents regain a healthier perspective, Elona Hartjes
often asks them this question: “Do your kids flush the toilet?” (The usual
answer is no) “We are so busy worshipping at the altar of their achievements
that we are letting them off the hook on everything else.” Is failing really so
scary? Being less-than-amazing at an activity can teach resilience and
perseverance, a more accurate assessment of what’s needed to be better, and help
shape interests and identify talents.
The kids aren’t fooled anyway, she points out. They know when
praise is platitude, she says, and when their success is undermined by a rescue
from mom. False praise can also be interpreted as “this is the best my parents
think I can do.” “Our society is so much ‘good try, good try, good try,’ ” Ms.
Hartjes says. “But I don’t think kids are always trying, because they have
learned they don’t have to.”
23 June 2011
DIFFERENCES IN MEN'S AND WOMEN'S SOCCER
by AFP Marika
The author believes that “As you
get higher into the elite category, there are nearly no differences in terms of
attitude from the players." "They know what is needed to become an elite athlete
and so their attitude is very professional. In some areas I would say that
female players can sometimes be too serious. Occasionally it is good to relax
and just enjoy the moment.
"Another thing is that women always seem to want to know why they are being
asked to do something, while men just get on with it. That’s not to say one
attitude is better than the other - sometimes it is good just to act and not
overthink, and at other times it is good to ask.
"Emotionally I think that you can
find as many differences from one man to another, or from one woman to another,
as there are between men and women in general. What’s important is to get to
know the players you are working with. After that you can ascertain their
strengths and find a way of playing that suits the type of players you have.
"Obviously there are physical
differences between men and women. There are differences of strength, which you
see in particular when it comes to tackling. Speed is a difference too, but
there is not so much difference in the relative changes of speed."
"Theoretically, this means female players should not have any problem dictating
the speed of matches in the same way as the men do. But in practice, my own
experience has shown that this is still a problem for many women’s teams.
Germany are a notable exception - I think they are the best women’s team in the
world in this aspect.
"When it comes to tactical
understanding, I think male and female players are pretty even off the field,
but when it comes to making decisions in the middle of a game, the men still
seem to have the edge. Technically, I think there are many top women players who
are just as skilful as the men. But there are more players with those good
technical abilities in the men’s game, which is why it’s perceived – wrongly –
that men are naturally more gifted at football.
"I think that you see the on-field
scenarios more clearly in the women’s game because there is less tackling than
in the men’s version. Clearly you can enjoy both: appreciating the men’s matches
with their high levels of intensity and good technical skills, and the women’s
matches with technical and tactical skills that you can recognise more clearly.”
Women are far more receptive to
Carolina Morace, the former
international striker told FIFA World that, in her experience, the variations
between national footballing cultures are often more pronounced than the
differences between male and female players. “I found much bigger variations
between Italian women and Canadian women than I found between men and women in
the same country," she said. "For example, in Italy, the women players are
speaking all the time, whereas the Canadians hardly ever do. When I first came
to Canada, we explained to the players the importance of nutrition and a
properly thought-out training regime. They had to learn that a rest day is in
fact a necessary component of training, that it is about quality rather than
quantity. Over here, a lot of the players still labour under the misconception
that more is better - it is very much part of the mentality that exists on this
side of the world.
"One clear difference that does
exist between male and female players across the world is that the males usually
start to play football in a serious way much earlier than the females. Even at
the age of four or five, boys are often attending football schools and learning
the technical and tactical aspects of the game. They are therefore much more
prepared than women for the demands of the elite game. "Men are also faster, of
course, and you can see in men’s matches that they have a much higher rate of
ball possession. Their running is also more rational because they have that much
more experience in the game.
Hope Powell, the English coach says
“Off the field, there is definitely more of a family atmosphere in women’s
football, and women are also far more receptive to coaching. They recognise that
they can always learn more, while men tend to think initially that they already
know it all - it takes them a little bit more time to realise that they don't!
"I think men also show very little emotion in training, perhaps because they
would see that as a sign of weakness. Women can go too far the other way, being
too sensitive at times and often taking things personally.
Tom Sermanni of Australia says that
for him, "the key differences concern communication, team focus and
self-responsibility. As far as communication is concerned, the manner, content
and frequency with which a coach speaks to the team plays a much bigger role in
the women’s game. Female players want feedback on a regular basis. They
especially want information in relation to performance; areas in need of
improvement and reinforcement on the positive aspects of their game. They also
require reassurance at times when confidence is low. Female players will be more
inclined to dwell on their weaknesses, while male players will confidently
expound upon their strengths - even if these are only perceived.
"In terms of team focus, women tend
to be more team-orientated and supportive of the team as a whole, whereas male
players are primarily concerned about their own performances. In the right
environment there is a far greater degree of genuine loyalty among female
athletes. "I would say that many of the elite female players also take on more
self-responsibility than their male counterparts, perhaps because they are not
usually full-time professionals or, even if they are, they are still only
modestly paid. This means they have to juggle their other commitments outside of
football, so they are often more responsible, with better organisational skills.
"Aside from those differences,
however, there is little separating the men’s and women’s game. In relation to
on field physical, tactical and technical requirements, I don’t alter my demands
or expectations depending upon the gender of my players. The expectations these
days for elite female players are no different to male professional players. In
fact the lack of financial rewards in women’s football tends to produce an
attitude that, ironically, can often be more professional.
"Overall I believe that the quality and entertainment value displayed in the
women’s game has brought great credibility and acceptance of the sport among the
whole football community.
10th June 2011
TOBACCO PRODUCTS MAY CONTAIN METHYLHEXANEAMINE
9th March 2011
BATTLES CONTINUE FOR WOMEN IN SPORT
MacKinnon, Postmedia News
Marking the centennial of
International Women's Day, some sports heavyweights from the International
Olympic Committee to soccer czar Sepp Blatter, voiced laudable support for
women's place in sport. "We have always believed that the future of football is
feminine," said Blatter who, as president of FIFA, his sport's governing body,
has gained notoriety for serial political incorrectness rather than for
championing women's rights. Still, the future of women's soccer in Canada
certainly seems bright, what with the women's World Cup coming to Canada in
2015, and the 2014 under-20 women's World Cup coming, too, as a test event for
the big show one year later.
That happy announcement, though,
came in the wake of a nasty squabble (now partially resolved) between Canada's
national women's team and the Canadian Soccer Association over players'
compensation and the future of head coach Carolina Morace.
"We're still seeing only between
25-28% of board members of national or multisports organizations who are women.
"That would be skewed in the sense that some boards [CAAWS, for example] are all
women, and there a few sports that have no women [directors]. In that area, the
culture hasn't changed a ton." So, for example, the CSA has an six-man executive
board, and just one of their 11 directors is female.
Lofstrom says sports organizations,
from the community level on up, need to develop female coaches, officials and
administrators. "That idea that we're seeing from the corporate world is that
the big businesses that are doing well are the ones with the most diverse
boards, not only women, but diversity in ethnicity and age and all those
[categories] to get more vibrant discussions," Lofstrom said. "In sport, it
7th December 2010
ALCOHOL AND ATHLETES
athletes consume alcohol after games or competitions to relax and celebrate.
What they may not know is that alcohol can negatively affect physical and mental
Alcohol affects all major
body systems. Here’s how alcohol can negatively affect your body, and your
ability to perform at your personal best.
1.) Alcohol can impair athletic performance*
performance potential by up to 11% in elite athletes and
by as much as 15-30% in high school athletes.
the athlete’s reaction time for up to 12 hours after consumption.
exercise recovery. Alcohol impairs blood glucose for up to 36 hours, which
affects energy production and optimum physical/mental performance.
protein synthesis for repair of muscle tissue during post-exercise and recovery
HGH release up to 70% during sleeping hours when (normal) release is at peak
levels – negating the ability to efficiently build/maintain muscle mass.
increases release of stress hormone cortisol – negating the training effect.
immune system. Statistics show athletes who “drink” get sick more often.
are twice as likely to become injured as non-drinkers.
drinking (binge drinking) results in projected losses of up to 14 days of
2.) Did you know?
Contrary to popular belief
alcohol is mot a stimulant, but CNS depressant. Alcohol works against the
athlete in coping with stress of training and competition. If
you are already depressed, drinking more alcohol may be a real downer.
takes 1 hour to metabolize 1 regular alcoholic drink: 12 oz beer, 4 oz wine, 1.5
oz distilled spirits (gin, vodka, rum, whiskey) (1 oz = 30 ml)
“doubles” affects you sooner and lasts longer due to alcohol metabolizing at a
fixed rate by the liver.
your alcohol” is not a sign of maturity and could be a sign of dependency.
alcoholic drinks may speed intoxication as they pass through the stomach to the
intestine faster when alcohol is absorbed.
coffee or a cold shower will not sober you up or improve your judgment skills.
special foods or taking vitamins will not reduce the severity of a hangover. The
main symptoms of a hangover are due to dehydration.
drinks with caffeine (e.g. Red Bull) when combined with alcohol are potentially
dangerous, increasing athlete’s risk of injury, especially when driving.
alcohol (7 kcal per gram) can increase body weight and will delay the use of fat
as a metabolic fuel during exercise.
3.) Nutrition Tips
always hydrate with water, sport drinks, juices and/or milk post-exercise to
fully hydrate before consuming any alcohol.
adequate carbohydrates, a major source of B vitamins, for post-exercise
athletes in training say “NO” to alcohol.
4.) Alcohol and Weight
Want to get rid of that
“Beer belly”? To lose one lb/wk (3500 Kcal) you need to decrease 500 Kcal/day.
Cutting out three beers/day = 450 kcal. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, almost
as much as fat (9 calories per gram).
5.) Canadian Recommendations
If you consume > 7-14
drinks/week (i.e. > 2 drinks/day) then you are exceeding the recommendations
of Canadian Physicians:
Men: no more than 2
units/day Women: 1 unit/day or less
1 unit = 10 oz can beer, 4 oz. wine, 1.5 oz distilled spirits (gin, rum,
ATHLETES AND ALCOHOL DON’T MIX!
6th December 2010
Getting Enough Exercise at Sports Practice (CBC)
More than 75 per cent of children in organized sports such as baseball or soccer
do not reach the U.S. government's recommended amount of physical activity
during their practices, a study suggests.
guidelines recommend that children and teens perform 60 minutes of moderate to
vigorous physical activity each day, but fewer than half of children and 10 per
cent of teens meet these guidelines.
spent an average of 30 minutes being inactive during each practice, researchers
found. Overall, only 24 per cent of participants met the 60-minute physical
activity recommendation during practice, with rates differing by sport and age
current findings, it appears that youth sports practices are making a
less-than-optimal contribution to the public health goals of increasing physical
activity and preventing childhood obesity."
two per cent of girl softball players reached the guideline. The players spent
an average of 30 minutes being inactive during each practice, which ranged in
length from 40 to 130 minutes for soccer and 35 to 217 minutes for baseball or
soccer practices, the participants gained 44 minutes of moderate to vigorous
physical activity compared with 41 minutes for baseball and softball practices.
Girls got less of this type of physical activity than boys during sports
researchers suggested ways to increase physical activity during practices,
· Emphasizing participation over competition.
· Sponsoring teams for all skill levels across all ages.
· Ensuring access by lower-income youth with sliding scales for fees.
· Increasing practice frequency.
· Extending short seasons.
recommends children age 1 to 5 get at least two hours a day — through play,
games, recreation and active transportation like cycling. For children older
than five, it's 90 minutes a day.
5th December 2010
● Swedish Football
Questions Impact of Active Recovery Training
Swedish Football Association
physiologist Helena Andersson concludes that active recovery training
has "neither a positive nor a negative impact on the efficiency of recovery."
She has shown that active recovery training between games does not have any
significant physiological benefits for elite female players.
The study was conducted on women
from two elite teams who played two 90-minute games, 72 hours apart. Between the
matches, one group performed active recovery training while the other group
rested. Tests were carried out throughout the process and the players'
physiological markers were analyzed.
"Contrary to my initial belief, we
could not identify differences between the groups," said Andersson. "The active
recovery training had neither a positive nor a negative impact on the efficiency
of recovery. "Of course it should not be underestimated that players like some
physical activity after games. It's possible that other measurements than those
we used could prove benefits. But the fact is there is as yet limited research
to show that active recovery really does have an effect."
19th October 2010
SPECIALIZING IN SPORTS WHEN YOUNG, CAN PUT KIDS AT RISK
From an article by
Yvonne Zacharias, Province