Palm cooling is an emerging performance enhancement concept in the sports world. While the research has been growing for almost a decade now, the application at large scale has yet to happen. However, more practical palm cooling devices are now available making it easier for implementation in more settings. Athletic medicine and sports performance programs at the collegiate, pro and even high school levels are now asking if this science is something they can and should use. The resounding answer is, yes.
If you coach or care for athletes, this article will inform you on how to implement the AF Charge Bar from AVA Cooling Tech into your team or program.
If you are not yet familiar with what palm cooling is and how it works, we highly suggest watching and listening to these two resources:
1. This is a great explanation of the physiology and an awesome breakdown of the peer reviewed research.
2. This is a discussion between Dr. Huberman and Dr. Heller, both from Stanford. Dr. Heller has pioneered the thermoregulation through glabrous skin research.
Palm cooling has been shown to work. However, palm cooling only works if used and implemented properly. This seems obvious but many good ideas in the human performance world are not followed through with and therefore never get a chance to work. Or, the idea is determined to not work, even though the issue is not with the science but poor compliance with implementation. Hopefully, this article highlights that implementation of palm cooling could not be more simple for a team, program or organization.
Cooling your AF Charge Bars before use: Ideal Cooling Temp is Between 45-60 degrees Fahrenheit
Option 1: Place devices, filled with water, into a refrigerator set between 40-45 degrees for a few hours before use. This will cool the water and the bar and will likely hold it's temperature the longest.
Option 2: If the devices are not pre-cooled in a refrigerator before a practice, workout, or game it is not a big deal. Simply fill the devices with cool water from a sink or fountain and the bar will cool to an effective temperature. The water will have to cool the bar so the length of time it holds the proper temp will be slightly shorter than option 1. Most water fountains and sinks turned to "cold" will be set between 40 and 50 degrees. This is a perfect temperature.
How long will the AF Charge Bar hold it's appropriate temperature?
If cooled and then left out in room temperature without being handled the charge bar will likely hold its appropriate temperature for 2-3 hours
The more it is held the shorter amount of time it will hold its temperature as the palms will slowly heat up the device. In our experience, when people are working out and using the device between sets the appropriate temp will be held for 45-60 minutes. After this amount of time simply cool the device again by refilling with cool water to continue using.
When possible, use the Charge bar standing, held in both hands, behind the back/buttocks (in the weight room, when standing during timeouts during game). This will encourage an upright posture with chest open which can facilitate excellent recovery breathing on top of the palm cooling. Also, athletes should always hold the device with 2 hands to maximize surface area. Athletes should NOT grip the bar tight. This will squeeze the blood vessels in the palm and prevent the cooling effect.
Best way to use device in the weight room for a team training
Either assign 1 device to a lifting group of athletes who take the bar with them to stations OR assign 1 device to a lifting station and athletes can use that device when they are at that station.
An athlete should hold on to the device in the recovery posture after difficult lifting sets or intervals. This should be done between all sets of the workout if possible (after the general warm up and movement prep). The point is to combat rising temperature, so early implementation during the workout is fairly important. Even rest breaks of as little as 30 seconds can be enhanced by palm cooling. Our testing has shown greatest results if the bar can be held for at least 60 seconds. Realize that if multiple athletes are sharing the same device that device will heat up more quickly and may need to have the water exchanged at more frequent intervals.
Palm cooling during practice
Cool the devices prior to practice with option 1 or 2. Place them near a drinking area or any area where players tend to congregate during any breaks in the action. If players are rotating through drills or taking turns conditioning, those who are recovering can be encouraged to grab a device. If there are athletes who are identified as prone to heat injuries, fatigue or cramping it may be beneficial to assign them a device for practice. Players, assistants or athletic trainers could all be assigned to be in charge of refilling the device.
Using the device during games
Cool the devices prior to the game and a few under the players chairs on the bench. Then also have some that can be carried to a timeout circle away from the bench. Athletic trainers, assistant coaches or grad assistants could be assigned the responsibility to hand the devices to players as they come to a huddle or to remind a player now sitting on the bench to grab the device under their chair. Again, start this process early in the game. Don't wait to implement in the second half and use the devices during halftime if possible. Again, having someone assigned to re-cool the bars can be helpful to be sure cool devices are available when needed.
Palm cooling as a sleep aid
Many players struggle to fall asleep after late games. Their temperatures and hormones are elevated from competition. Holding an AF Charge Bar can help quickly bring their temperature back down and also delivers a calming effect when using the device to go to bed. If certain players have expressed difficulty with post competition sleep, they may benefit from being assigned a device.
In summary, palm cooling is an emerging concept in sports performance with research supporting it's use. Real world application was limited for years due to impractical devices but now new options are available. Athletic medicine, sports performance and coaching staffs can now easily implement palm cooling with their teams or programs to boost high level performance late into games and competition. Palm cooling can be used in the weight room, during practice or in games. It can also be used to help athletes fall asleep after late games or practice.
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