The icemen cometh! BY TONY ADAMS
Sharks’ radical treatment has them chilled out and primed for a tilt at history
CRONULLA HOPE TO literally freeze Melbourne out of the grand final using a high-tech machine that’s been lowering players’ bodies down to a staggering minus 150 degrees Celsius.
A host of Sharks stars including Paul Gallen, Ben Barba, Sam Tagataese and Wade Graham have been using the revolutionary treatment known as cryotherapy to recover from bruising games in the finals series.
Gallen missed the first game of the finals with a back complaint, but after several sessions in the cryotherapy chamber is back to his devastating best and raring to go in the grand final.
Players spend only three minutes in a freezing chamber but get amazing benefits as their bodies are subject to the extreme cold.
The arctic temperatures are said to make the body produce adrenaline, aiding muscle recovery and speeding up the healing of soft-tissue injuries, which are very common in rugby league.
The treatments are a part of everyday life in top US and European sport, but very new to Australia.
US basketball superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have used cryotherapy treatment to prolong their careers, while soccer megastar Cristiano Ronaldo was so impressed with its benefits that he installed a chamber in his house!
Leicester City, who stunned the sports world by winning the English Premier League title last season, also used cryotherapy treatment to help them through their demanding 38-game schedule.
Neil Dunkley, a Sydney-based sports scientist and founder of Below Zero Cryotherapy, introduced the Sharks to the benefits of the treatment – and admits they were a little sceptical.
“When they heard they were going to be in a minus 150 degree environment, there were some nervous looks,” he says.
“But once I explained it was no worse than an ice bath, they were willing to give it a go.
FREEZE A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW Ben Barba, Jack Bird and Wade Graham make themselves comfortable in the cryotherapy chamber as they search for any edge they can find in the quest for a maiden title.