Wallabies go below zero for recovery

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies swapped their ice baths for a deep freeze this week, testing out cryogenics in their recovery process.

In a  technique used by a number of high profile sporting teams, including the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as big-name athletes like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and boxer Floyd Mayweather, the Wallabies spent two minutes in a chamber colder than -100 degrees Celsius to help their bodies recover.

Wallabies strength and conditioning coach Brad Harrington said the advantage of the chamber over the more traditional ice baths, was  the speed with which players can go through the procedure, cutting the usual recovery process time of close to 20 minutes to less than five.

Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu gets ready to take the plunge. Photo: Getty Images“It's a lot more efficient...and also it's a little bit more comfortable in terms of the dryness of it, rather than being in the ice bath.

“Basically, it’s using the same sort of principles of bringing the blood flow into the central parts of the body and then flushing it out and trying to accelerate recovery.”

Harrington said they were hoping to use cryogenics more frequently, though with the ‘nomadic’ nature of the Test schedule, it would be on a case-by-case basis.

“There's a lot of professional teams, especially in the UK that have these facilities on site. It is backed by research. There's a lot of research around showing that the cryogenics can accelerate recovery.

Michael Hooper comes out of the chamber. Photo: Getty Images“There’s a lot of professional sporting teams over here using these and actually putting these in their facilities.

“Cost is always a factor and with us travelling all the time and a bit nomadic we have to have a number of recovery options in our toolbox and thisis one of them.”

For Wallabies halfback Nick Frisby, cryogenics was a welcome change from the ice bath, though the three minute session was about all he could handle.


Recovery in the Arctic ❄️😬 #cryotherapy #crocs

A photo posted by BERNARD FOLEY (@bernardfoley) on

“It’s not something I'd recommend doing every day for fun but a nice little advantage for us to recover well ahead of  Saturday's game,” he said.

“You've got to be completely dry before you go in there.

“Obviously you don't want any wet patches freezing up on you so 30 seconds in the -60 just to warm you up, and then two minutes in the -160 just to top you off.”

Cryogenics is not entirely new for rugby, with Wales employing the technique back in 2011, ahead of the World Cup and Sam Warburton using cryotherapy to accelerate his recovery from injury in 2012.

The Wallabies take on Argentina at Twickenham on Sunday morning (AEDT) in their final Rugby Championship clash of the season. Tickets at http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk