Cold to help the Olympic athletes recover

With temperatures in Athens reaching 40°C, keeping cool and maintaining fluids was a focus for athletes. Contrary to popular belief, saunas and hot spas dehydrate the body and cause fatigue. Hence, the Australian Olympic team devised an entire recovery programme based on cold. During the Olympics, they set up an entire centre devoted to recovery, which included cold immersion pools. After events, the athletes submerged themselves in water around 12°C for up to a minute, jumped out for a minute and repeated the cycle up to three times. Furthermore, before the events, the athletes also wore jackets packed with 18 sachets of frozen liquid in order to cool their body temperature. Professor Fricker, Medical Director of the Australian Olympic team, stated that "if you can cool your temperature by just one or two degrees, you can spin out the onset of heat stress by an hour or two". Another method using cold, mainly used in Germany, is "cryochambers", where athletes, under constant medical supervision and wearing socks, gloves and facemasks, spend short periods in a chamber cooled to -150°C. Evidence linking cold to quicker recovery is largely anecdotal. However, one theory about how cold baths work is that repeated constriction and dilatation of blood vessels helps flush out lactate.