Captain America Unleashed – Is Ice Truly Worthless?


Subjecting an organism to several CWIs (4 x 4 mins at 4-C) causes considerable functional al- terations that significantly affect the state and me- chanical response of muscle structures. Muscle stiffness and muscle Vc are particularly affected. Prolonged, intensive CWI increases muscle stiffness and Cold-Water Immersion and Muscle Response decreases Vd and muscle contraction. Extended exposure to cold also affects muscle response and increases Ts and Tr.

-Juan Manuel Garcia-Manso

I would like to thank my fellow Massachusetts Minutemen from over 200 years ago for giving me the right to disagree with Josh Stone, as his post was a clear example of the need for moderation and more detailed case studies. The secrets are held in Comic Books believe it or not, as Captain America is strangely the most doped athlete known to man, and his history is ironically useful for this Forth of July. I do agree with Josh Stone though about not just handing bags of ice to people and hoping they go away. Too many do this (ice and stim) and those ATCs tend to give the hard working trainers a bad rep. So what does Ice do at the cellular level in real training environments? In 2000, before NASM was born again, Dr. Clark had a small trial run of the new curriculum. In that seminar was attended by Ironman Institute (not Tony Stark’s headquarters) therapists and I challenged them, with Bryan Tobias, that cold slows down metabolism. Why do we want to stop it? At that time, way before Mobility WOD youtubes, Aaron Mates suggested running after a slight ankle sprain. I am not saying anything but many people will disagree and share polar differences in belief, but most of the time specific cases will have different applications. I always take the Devil’s Advocate to make sure balance exists before we as one coach says, throw the baby out with the cold water.

One must take the antithesis view as down the road something will surface that will need that fresh perspective. I still use Ice Baths and could care less if CWI helps with parasympathetic reactivation because the highest form of Regeneration is rehabilitation. I will quote John Hobermann over and over, good sport begins with good health ending. If not, why do we taper or decrease the dose of training to super compensate? Rehab is submaximal training, and training is submaximal death. What doesn’t kill you can make you stronger, but training is not one drug, but an evil cocktail that requires one to adapt to, just like the Dread Pirate Roberts. Some aspects like motor learning to the brain are not going to be attenuated by ice, and usually the last step to greatness is in the brain, only if the body can support the strain it allows. I have measured plasma endorphin with athletes and other opiate like chemicals with LSU circuits, ice baths, and other exercise techniques to see what happens at the cellular level. Am I wasting time using a cold laser with athletes when it costs 40 dollars a treatment (with insurance!). Am I wasting my time with vibration? I need to know. As an athlete I have wasted time and money doing things that didn’t work, and I want to be ahead of the research, and that means creativity coming from unlikely sources.

I don’t support chronic use of ice. I don’t support external applications of regeneration during the GPP as of yet. I think the best regeneration techniques are work capacity. When I present on Regeneration I will share both research and what people do. Like static stretching reducing power acutely, the question is how long or what sequence will change the time course changes. If one can’t do a passive recovery option without pain, I will say that this is at the level with regeneration techniques being a worthwhile option. Icing after a workout to get regenerated doesn’t work period. Ice, or CWI is for pain and symptom management. I have looked at TNF-1, immune responses, brain waves, and even thyroid responses and I don’t see too much clarity. Ice is for the highest strain on the body and that is likely peaking. Would I do it after the finals of the olympics? If needed. Would I do it if we make mistakes on volume or need to get reps in? Yes. I have seen athletes come to training and need to change or work on a training element last minute. For example, when observing Travis Skaggs in Florida working with one world champion, the ice bath was used because the volumes were as Stu Mcgill would say unholy. With the frequency of training high, loosing the stimulus was not a limiting factor! Again artificial interventions get tricky, as the pool workouts were poor mans Normatec and we got some light aerobic activity to help with substrate utilization and range of motion. One coach texted me about hydrostatic pressure, and a deep tub can do that but does it need to be cold? Neutral water (normal temperature) increases HRV as it feels good, but too hot contributes to the death of apparently 14,000 Japanese a year.

What about RICE does that work? Yes and No. I have seen a huge influx of athletes getting therapy from my medical friends from wannabe therapists who should use the CSCS and get people stronger and in shape, instead of trying to be a medical expert. Injuries from Rehab! So now the games begin, where therapists are playing whack a mole with compensations that went from normal to new injuries. Training through injuries is risky, and one can’t just start training after a high ankle sprain like nothing happened. Sure, Plan B is sometimes necessary, but good medical programs allow for plan A to be the majority. We are getting plan C training now because of bad plan Bs. Ice can help with only specific traumatic events, not because we are soft and people think they should use Biotest Surge after a tempo run of 1400m because we are lazy.

From a clinical perspec- tive, prolonged local superficial cooling initiated early after traumatic skeletal muscle injury is a valuable therapeutic approach to improve nutritive tissue perfusion, preserve cellular viability, attenuate leukocyte-mediated tissue destruction, and to reduce the risk for evolving compartment syndrome, thereby preventing further irreversible aggravation.

Yet the risk of secondary injury is small for most injuries, so I like Ice after being carted, not from walking off with a slight cramp.

Thus, it is also possible that cryotherapy-induced decrease in extravasation and activity of macrophage into the injury area may partially delay and indeed hinder the early regeneration of skeletal muscle slightly after the contusion injury.

Even the same Klaus-Dieter Schaser study from Germany is conflicting, but you can’t have your cake and eat it with rehab all the time. I have seen athletes come to one particular clinic with 71 on their HRV with ithlete, and do a cold water immersion the day after a game, add in a sauna, and then finish with a contrast shower. Result 110 for 3 hours during video review. Did it repair muscle? No, but something is working at a level we are not familiar. Charlie was talking about a third nervous system 10 years ago, and I think the brain being a control center for hormones is the key. I have athletes do multiple sessions a day to handle the strain of training and competition with light exercise, the frequency and guided rest allows adaptations to be preserved and pain and feelings of mood to be reduced and optimized. It’s tricky, requiring the coach to be VERY organized and plan ahead, but regeneration is for those pushing the limits, not hiding from it. Most athletes need to go to bed, stop chasing the action, and give up the pubs in London or the clubs in Los Angeles and New York. Cold is very limited, but the research is there to justify use, but chronic use is just like Josh said, a drug being abused.

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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