Foxes Fighting Fatigue With Big Freeze
Nigel Pearson and his backroom staff have never been averse to pushing the boundaries in search of the all-important marginal percentages that can make all the difference in team performance.
Player preparation and recovery, long-term injury prevention, performance analysis in training and matches, diet, hydration, work load management – few stones are left unturned in the quest for excellence.
So when the Barclays Premier League schedule handed the Foxes three high-intensity fixtures in seven days, with less than three days separating the final two, it came as no surprise to the players that the Club's forward-thinking medical and sports science team had a plan for their recovery.
“We’ve had a cryotherapy station at the training ground and we’ve been non-stop in it,” striker Jamie Vardy told Foxes Player after Saturday’s win over Newcastle.
“We were straight in it after the game against Chelsea on Wednesday night and then twice again on Thursday and again on Friday.
“It’s just to make sure that we were all fully fit for the game against Newcastle, and the performance showed that we all were.
“The manager and the medical staff are brilliant and we work with them very closely. They always look at each player individually and how they recover from Saturday to Saturday.”
Cryotherapy chambers use liquid nitrogen to expose athletes to extremely cold temperatures for short periods and are believed to improve recovery times after intense physical exercise.
“You have to go in one doorway, which is minus 60 degrees, for 30 seconds, and then there’s a doorway in the middle that sends you through to another little room, that’s minus 135 degrees,” Vardy explained.
“You’ve got to stay in there for another two minutes and you just keep repeating the process.”
The process shares some similarities with the infamous ice baths, which have become commonplace in modern football and wider professional sport.
But Head Physio Dave Rennie (pictured above, with Nigel Pearson) explained that cryotherapy offers a much more focused method of recovery.
“Cryotherapy differs from ice baths as it works centrally, affecting the central nervous system, promoting improved sleep and recovery,” Dave told lcfc.com.
“This differs from the ice baths often used, as they act more peripherally. Essentially it is a more aggressive and expensive form of maximal recovery.
“The lads did this circuit immediately after the Chelsea game, then twice on Thursday and once on the Friday before Newcastle.
“Injured players did two rounds on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”
Pearson’s squad have been widely praised in recent weeks for the intensity and high tempo they have employed during a remarkable resurgence that has seen them win five of their last six Premier League matches. They head into the final three games of the season a point clear of the relegation zone – having been bottom six games ago – and with their destiny very much in their own hands.
Quite whether the use of such high-tech methods can be directly responsible for maintaining those performance levels is, according to Pearson, difficult to confirm.
But he and his staff will continue to work on the finer details, whether they help in body or in mind.
“It’s difficult to quantify, but we work in an industry in which I repeatedly say is about small margins,” Pearson said.
“If we can find a way of giving us that half or one per cent opportunity to be better prepared, then we’ll try to do it.
“It could be a placebo effect, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s about trying to do the right things and get as many players as possible in the right condition to take to the field.”
Pearson added: “We now have a week where we can nurse the players who need a bit of extra rest and bring one or two others up to speed. That’s what it’s about, because our minds are already turning towards what is a very important fixture for us at home next.”
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