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  • Writer's pictureVision Football


A guide to cold exposure, and why it's more than just an ice bath.

As the great Confucius once said, "all good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get". He is not wrong. Initially, cold exposure can be very difficult (for most sane people) and takes a lot of courage. But the benefits are often understated, and can be game changers not just for athletes, but for people in general. Both mental, and physical.

Firstly, let's focus on the physical. We are a football academy after all. In simple terms, cold exposure reduces muscle soreness and inflammation. Especially for players in-season who have just played a 90 minute match and have training in a day or two, submerging in ice-cold water or, if accessible, undertaking cryotherapy for example, would be of great benefit in order to reduce muscle soreness and ensure that the body feels ready to perform in the next session. As well as this, cold exposure on our glabrous skin (upper half of face, soles of feet, palm of hands) can be used to quickly decrease our body temperature. This may be a great tool to use during training/matches (when possible) to reduce fatigue and prolong the high-level of physical performance. Up-to-the-neck cold exposure can also be used to increase body temperature, and if used at the right time (in the morning when our body temperature is still low from sleep), it can be extremely beneficial to increase general function and further wake up the body.

In terms of the mental benefits, they are quite straightforward - and in my opinion are the main reason why people, and not only footballers or athletes, should incorporate deliberate cold exposure into their weekly routines. When the body is submerged in uncomfortably cold temperatures, our body essentially goes into "fight or flight" mode due to the high-levels of stress being endured as a result of adrenaline release, and being able to train our minds to stay calm when our body feels that level of stress is greatly beneficial and a key method to use for self-improvement, both as footballers and of course, as people in general. Key takeaway: cold exposure makes you learn to control your thoughts and mind in high-stress situations.

Deliberate cold exposure, in its various forms, are extremely beneficial, both mentally and physical, and we recommend that all of our (older) players (and parents!) start to incorporate these protocols into their daily life, even if only done for the mental benefits. I, myself, have recently began to incorporate up-to-the-neck exposure once a week and the mental benefits have already become evident. Remember, we are not experts on this topic, but simply want to share things that have worked for us in the hopes that they will have the same effects on your lives. If you want more information on the topic, we recommend you watch the following episode from the Huberman Lab podcast:

Thanks for supporting our blog. Get cold and see you next week!


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