In case you didn't notice, it's pretty hot outside across most of America. At the same time, America's high school football programs are springing back into action with summer training practices, some requiring full pads and helmets in heat reaching a scalding 90 degrees … or more.
Harvard Westlake football players enjoy a post-practice ice bath — Los Angeles Times video screengrab
Naturally, that combination of heat and padding poses a serious health risk for anyone in prep football, particularly players coming through tough conditioning drills at the end of a long practice. The solution for many schools has been a practice as old and simple as can be: Ice baths, and lots of them.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the football programs in the greater L.A. area are among the squads leading the ice bath charge, with many having players jump into ice baths and soak as soon as practices conclude. The reasoning behind the soak is simple: By submerging the entire body in icy water, players can decrease their core temperature to a healthy level, helping ward off heat stroke that could follow even after practices conclude.
If there was any question that the programs were committed to keeping those ice baths as cold as possible, consider the case of Westlake (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake High. The program has reportedly been plowing through 1,000 pounds of ice per week just keeping ice baths and impromptu ice baths constructed of idle garbage cans cold enough to help out the H-W football players.
That's a lot of ice, not to mention a lot of trips to local stores or warehouses to keep picking up more frozen blocks.
Nevertheless, all that work is well worth the effort if it helps keep teenagers safe. So far there has been a marked decrease in deadly heat stroke incidents when compared to prior seasons. It's entirely possible that better use of readily available techniques like ice baths are having a significant effect on keeping teens safe, which would be an encouraging sign for everyone.
- Sports & Recreation