Ice Baths - Miracle Cure or Mythical Torture?

Major leaguers across the world play difficult games or complete tough practices, cool down, stretch, and then plunge into iced down water at the cool temperature of around 45 - 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a practice that is very common, but the Orlando women’s soccer experts at QueensCast have one main question; are ice baths a miracle cure or just a mythical torture. Today, we hope to find out.

The Science Behind the Ice Bath

There are many reasons athletes hop in the ice bath after a long day. First, it can be refreshing, especially after playing a humid game outside. Additionally, it is a way of bonding with the team. Spending eight minutes together where you can do nothing but chat can enhance the bond that team members have created while on the field. Although, there is one main reason that athletic trainers, sports doctors, and coaches are making ice baths mandatory: science.

Ice baths cause a process called vasoconstriction. By hopping into an ice bath, swelling caused by strenuous exercise is minimized. In fact, even the opportunity to swell is supposedly minimized. When you exercise, blood gets moving very quickly. When you stop, the idea is that the ice bath will slow down the blood, which decreases swelling. Decreased swelling should lead to a decreased recovery time that is needed between events or practices. “A lot of running athletes feel that it really helps in their recuperation process,” says John Gallucci, the Medical Coordinator for Major League Soccer.

Proving the Science

Gallucci’s statement leads us to another question. Do athletes just feel that it helps in recovery, or does science actually prove that to be true? It seems like it really depends on who you ask. One study published in the Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise Journal studied nine men after a 30-minute run. Each runner put one leg into the ice bath and the other was left out. Researchers used a near-infrared spectroscopy to monitor each runner. The results suggested that the ice bath reduces muscle activity and slowed the flow of blood, supporting the claim that ice baths can reduce inflammation. Alternatively, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Physiology found that, “cold water immersion is no more effective than active recovery for minimizing inflammation and stress responses in the muscle.”

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it is up to the athlete to determine if they feel that ice baths are beneficial to their performance. If ice baths make an athlete feel good, then they may play better. There are a number of post-exercise activities that could potentially speed up recovery, and the best choice athletes can make, is to consult with their athletic trainer or sports doctor. Ice baths are being used by professionals around the world, so the Orlando women’s soccer experts think that they may be worth a try!

Pride Look to Jump Into Playoff Position Saturday vs. Sky Blue FC

Orlando Pride closes out a three-game homestand on Saturday evening, hosting Sky Blue FC at 7:30 p.m. ET at Orlando City Stadium. With 23 points and seven games remaining, the Pride sit just one point out of the fourth and final playoff position, and are tied with the team they host this weekend.

With a win on Saturday night, combined with a loss or draw from Seattle Reign FC against North Carolina, the Pride would catapult into fourth place in the league table. The Pride have picked up four points in their first two games of the homestand - having played both games over the last week - with a draw against Chicago last Saturday and win over Washington on Tuesday.

Saturday’s match will be available to watch on a number of online platforms including go90.comNWSLsoccer.com and the go90 app. The game will also be streamed on the Huffington Post Women’s Facebook page.

“[Sam Kerr] has been absolutely on fire this year and almost unplayable at times. She’s the key [for Sky Blue]. If we can keep her quiet then I think the quality that we have in this squad is one that will score goals and create chances,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said.  “If I look over the last few games, I think we’re starting to get a much better level of consistency and continuity so hopefully we’re getting things together at the right time.”

After missing 11 matches due to a quadriceps injury, goalkeeper and team captain Ashlyn Harris is expected to make her return between the pipes on Saturday. The 2016 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year played her last match over two months ago, sustaining the injury in the 26th minute of a 1-1 draw at Seattle on May 21.

Saturday will also mark the final professional game for midfielder Maddy Evans, who announced her retirement on Friday. Evans, 26, has appeared in 27 matches for Orlando since its inaugural season, making 16 starts.

The Pride head into the weekend on the heels of their second shutout of the season, defeating the Washington Spirit 3-0 Tuesday night. After a scoreless first half, the Pride offense exploded with goals from Marta, Camila and Alex Morgan to decisively claim three important points. The defense earned the clean sheet, not allowing a single shot on goal to the visiting Spirit.

Sky Blue also faced Washington in its last game, seeing a 4-1 defeat on Aug. 5. Maya Hayes scored the lone goal for Sky Blue just two minutes into the game, but the Spirit rallied for four straight goals for the win.

The Pride earned its first win over the New Jersey team in the last meeting between the two sides, after rookie Rachel Hill headed home the game-winner in the 86th minute. Down a goal late in the match, Marta leveled the score at 2-2 in the 77th minute before Hill came on as a second-half substitute and gave the Pride a 3-2 win with her first career goal. Hill is expected to miss Saturday’s match with an ankle sprain.

The match will be a battle of two of the league’s top offensive powers, with Marta facing off against Kerr. The pair are ranked third and second, respectively, in the NWSL’s goal-scoring ranks - Marta with eight goals and Kerr with 11. Morgan, who played her first match for the Pride on July 1, has scored a goal in each of the Pride’s last three home matches.

Tickets for Saturday’s match can be purchased at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.

Following Saturday’s match the Pride head to the Northeast next, traveling to face the Boston Breakers at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Orlando Pride Midfielder Maddy Evans Announces Retirement

Orlando Pride midfielder Maddy Evans has announced her retirement from professional soccer. The five-year National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) veteran will play her final match on Saturday, Aug. 12, at Orlando City Stadium when the Pride host Sky Blue FC.

“My decision to walk away happened very fast but I’ve accepted a job back home in Pennsylvania. It wasn’t an easy decision but, for me professionally and big picture, it’s the perfect fit and best option at this time,” Evans said.  “I want to thank all of Orlando City, especially my teammates, the fans and the entire organization for providing me a chance to really feel what it means to be a professional soccer player. These two years have been an experience I’ll always remember.”

“It’s with very mixed feelings that we see Maddy go. The first is obviously sadness that we are losing a player with such influence on the team, both on and off the field, and with such a great relationship with our supporters. Maddy has been an unbelievable team character, irreplaceable in that sense. So it’s with a lot of sadness we say goodbye,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said.  “But, at the same time, it’s exciting for her to look at this opportunity that’s cropped up. Having five years as a professional in the league, she feels the time is right to move to the next stage in her life and career and we share her excitement for that. We wish her every success for the future.”

Evans, 26, was acquired with the Pride’s No. 9 pick in the 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft after three seasons with the Boston Breakers. The midfielder has appeared in 27 matches for Orlando, making 16 starts. On Sept. 7, 2016, Evans set up Alex Morgan’s go-ahead goal at Sky Blue FC with a perfectly placed chip over the backline.

Prior to her move to Central Florida, Evans was a staple of the Boston Breakers midfield, totaling 2,250 minutes over 46 appearances with the club. Evans scored two goals and added three assists with the Breakers.

A graduate of Penn State University, Evans also played for Brisbane Roar in Australia’s Westfield W-League during the 2016-17 season.