I’ve been involved in sport since the age of eight and participated in many different sports throughout my childhood and adolescent years, be it at school or club level. This involvement continued through to adulthood and led me to pursue coaching at the completion of my “playing days”.
One thing that struck me over the years was the dramatic change in the way that athletes, regardless of their level of expertise, approached their particular sport. This, now, has culminated in the extreme pressure that we see today with athletes at all levels expected to perform at their peak, always. Having played football at a semi-professional level for the best part of fifteen years, I gained first-hand insights into the changes that were taking place within the game itself and also into the scientific developments that were taking place in sport in general.
The introduction of stretching techniques, ice bath recovery, foam rollers, compression wear, supplements, even yoga, all introduced to help athletes perform to the best of their ability and to recover better and quicker than ever before.
Introducing Ice Bath Recovery to the Team
Some years ago now, a club for whom I was playing employed the services of a well-known former Socceroo and A-League coach. This particular coach brought with him a wealth of football experience and knowledge at both an international and domestic level.
I recall, after our first training session as a group, walking into the dressing rooms to find two rubbish bins set up in a corner and filled with water and ice – ice baths in rubbish bins. Subsequently we were instructed by the coaching staff that at the completion of each training session it was mandatory to take an ice bath to aid with recovery. It was at this point that ice bath recovery was officially introduced to the players within the club and the practice soon reverberated throughout the league.
Many players had never heard of ice bath recovery or cold therapy nor did they understand the alleged benefits of the technique after games or training sessions. I’ll be honest, there were grumbles and groans amongst the playing group, primarily due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of ice bath recovery and secondly because of the cold water!
Because I was at the latter part of my playing career and was a lot older (and wiser) than some of the younger lads, I was happy to try new initiatives to avoid the muscle soreness and the aches and pains associated with playing competitive sport. Backing up training sessions 3-4 times a week and being able to perform to the best of my ability on match day were high on my list of priorities. It was no wonder then that the introduction of mandatory ice bath recovery (be it only rubbish bins) struck a chord with me immediately and I recognised instantly that it was a step in the right direction, not only for me as an athlete but also in creating a professional team environment for players within the club.
My initial observation with the introduction of the ice baths was that even though the staff were stringent about each player needing to finish training or games with ice bath recovery, strict ice bath recovery guidelines were not highlighted and outlined to the players so there were some initial discrepancies in duration time and immersion temperatures.
Within a few weeks of using the ice baths post training sessions and games I really felt that my ability to bounce back and feel rejuvenated and be training session or game ready was astonishing. Without a doubt, for me, the ice bath recovery technique was a blessing and allowed me to train and play at my peak week in and week out. I could genuinely feel the benefits and as a direct result of this I developed a desire to learn more about ice bath recovery methods and the science behind the benefits it provides to athletes worldwide. Personally, my biggest challenge at the time was being able to climb in and out of the makeshift ice baths. Imagine, after trainings and putting everything you have physically on the line, the last thing you need is to try and clamber into a rubbish bin with sore, weak muscles and worse still, try and climb out after standing in the makeshift ice bath with frozen legs!
Understanding Ice Bath Recovery Protocols
I found myself researching ice baths and ice bath recovery protocols to learn exactly how I could maximise my recovery because, let’s face it, if I was going to take an ice bath 3-5 times a week I might as well do it properly to gain maximum recovery results. Through my research I found several papers written about the benefits of ice bath recovery techniques and the protocols associated which were written by some of the world’s best sports scientists and professionals along with organisations in the field of cold water immersion. The data primarily included protocols associated with temperature, timings and benefits.
Finding the Ideal Ice Bath Recovery Solution
I soon began to understand ice bath recovery protocols and through my newly acquired knowledge was able to pass on my findings to my teammates and coaching staff alike. Along with the knowledge came the desire to help my club purchase a safe and professional ice bath for the team which was specific to our needs and specifically designed for ice bath recovery. I always maintained that if the club wanted players to act like and compete as professionals then they needed to create a professional culture within the club and provide the best possible equipment to help its affiliates reach their full potential, budget permitting. And so, the focus of my research turned to an investigation into purchasing the club a new, purpose built ice bath which was safe and professional and one in which athletes weren’t required to climb onto a chair to hop into.
I found that there were no ideal products on the market that specifically catered to club change room style facilities within a reasonable budget. The products were either expensive built-in style ice baths or portable versions which weren’t ideal for housing in change rooms for extended periods of time. What we needed was a happy medium between the two and so my search continued.
Designing and Developing the Next Generation of Ice Bath Recovery Systems
At this point, the fire had been lit and my desire and passion to design and develop a world class, affordable range of ice baths to aid with athlete recovery began. I was determined to allow athletes the world over to have access to safe, portable and professional ice bath recovery equipment no matter what level of sport they were in and regardless of their budget. There was an unwavering need cater for the biggest clubs in the world and the weekend warriors alike.
The rest, as they say, is history and the culmination of the story resulted in the development of the Pride on the Line Recovery Baths that you see today.
Nik Kuzman, Cofounder & Co-Director, Pride on the Line