It has been well documented that elevated heat storage and dehydration would reduce both aerobic and repeated, intermittent sprint performance. The heat strain from the environment along with the high metabolic heat production of soccer activities can pose great challenges to players’ health, performance and consequently, match results. Finding a simple yet effective cooling strategy is difficult, especially for administration in team sports such as soccer.
Forearm and hand cold water immersion is easy to perform and provides proven physiological benefits for hyperthermic individuals. Alternatively, neck cooling could be another ideal choice for field application since it is quick and convenient for mass distribution to multiple players.
To date, neither of these methods have been evaluated in a soccer match setting. Therefore, this study assessed the efficacy of two active coolings (forearm and hand cooling, and neck cooling) on thermoregulatory responses and soccer-specific exercise performance after a simulated 45-min soccer running in the heat. We hypothesized that active coolings during a simulated 15-min half-time recovery could attenuate heat strain and enhance subsequent soccer-specific performance tests.
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How Palm Cooling supports Half Time Recovery
Effect of Half Time Cooling on Thermoregulatory Responses and Soccer-Specific Performance Tests. Yang Zhang, Svetlana Nepocatych, Charlie P. Katica, Annie B. Collins, Catalina Casaru, and Gytis Balilionis et al The University of Alabama; Jesper Sjökvist, The Swedish Olympic Committee 2014.” This study examined two active coolings (forearm and hand cooling, and neck cooling) during a simulated half-time recovery on thermoregulatory responses and subsequent soccer-specific exercise performance.
METHOD: Following a 45-min treadmill run in the heat, participants (N=7) undertook 15-min recovery with either passive cooling, forearm and hand cooling, or neck cooling in a simulated cooled locker room environment. After the recovery, participants performed a 6×15-m sprint test and Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Level 1 test (YYIR1) in a temperate environment.
RESULTS: During the 15-min recovery, rectal temperature fell significantly (p<0.05). Neither active coolings induced further reduction in rectal temperature compared to passive cooling. No effect of active coolings was found in repeated sprint test. However, neck cooling reduced (p<0.05) the thermal sensation (TS) compared to passive cooling during the 15-min recovery. Active coolings attenuated (p<0.05) the sweat rate compared to passive cooling: 1.2±0.3 l•h-1 vs. 0.8±0.1 l•h-1 vs. 0.8±0.3 l•h-1, for passive cooling, forearm and hand cooling, and neck cooling, respectively. For passive cooling, elevated sweat rate resulted in higher (p<0.05) dehydration (2.1±0.3%) compared to neck cooling (1.5±0.3%) and forearm and hand cooling (1.4±0.3%). YYIR1 was improved (p<0.05) following forearm and hand cooling (869±320 m) and neck cooling (814±328 m) compared to passive cooling (654±311 m). Neck cooling (4.6±0.6) reduced (p=0.03) the session TS compared to passive cooling (5.3±0.5).
CONCLUSION: The present study has demonstrated the practical field benefits (i.e., Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery 1 test, sweating response) of forearm and hand cooling and neck cooling in delaying the development of dehydration, providing thermal comfort, and improving high- intensity sport performance under exercise-heat stress. For sports such as soccer, tennis, rugby, baseball, and American football that have breaks active coolings before warm-up and during any breaks could aid recovery from heat strain and help in delaying fatigue and enhance subsequent sport performance. Taken together, the current simple effective active coolings are recommended for large field implementation in team sports during hot conditions. These results suggest that active coolings effectively improved comfort and sweating response, which delayed exercise-heat induced performance diminish during a second bout of exercise.