Xtri Chats With iCoolSport's Karen Barlow By Betsy Delcour 5/20/2010

20th May, 2010
By Karen Barlow

Xtri Chats With iCoolSport's Karen Barlow By Betsy Delcour 5/20/2010. Click on the link below to read the full article at xtri.com or read below.


As competitive athletes, most of us are on a constant quest to improve our fitness from race to race. There are a number of ways we try to get faster, from changing up our training plans, to tweaking our diet/training nutrition. But one way that's easy to overlook, especially among the Type A crowd, is through enhancing our recovery. We all know on some level that our performance is linked not only to how we train, but also to how we recover. It is the key to absorbing those key sessions and avoiding injury. We chatted with physical therapist and elite runner Karen Barlow about iCoolSport, a recovery ice bath system. Here's what she said about how to use it, and how it can make a difference for us.

Hi Karen, and thanks for chatting with us! Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what your athletic and professional backgrounds are?

Hi Betsy. I am an elite marathon runner from Australia. I am also a Physical Therapist & Pilates Instructor. I was a swimmer, netballer & basketball player when I was younger. I did not compete in athletics as a junior & did not take up competitive running until I was 25yrs old.

You had some great success in the US so far this year. Can you tell us about those races? How did the Boston Marathon go for you? As an elite runner, do you ever see yourself trying out a triathlon? Runners typically do pretty well in these races.:)

I have had a great start to the year with my racing over here in the USA. I have placed first in the Huntington Beach Surf City Half Marathon, the Orange County Presidents Day 5km, the New Orleans Rock n Roll Mardi Gras Marathon, the Newport Beach Spirit Run 5km & 10km, and most recently the Santa Monica Classic 10km on Sunday. I got outsprinted at Carlsbad 5000 getting 3rd place, and I placed 27th at the Boston Marathon too (the downhills really ripped up my quads and I was happy to make it to the finish line in one piece!) I would love to try a triathlon one day! My background is swimming, and I just got a cool road bike after Boston…so you never know…it sure looks like a lot of fun :)

The main topic today is to chat about iCoolsport. What exactly is it, and how was it developed?

iCoolSport provides the latest technology in portable ice bath delivery systems. It is essentially a small portable chiller with a portable inflatable pool. The chiller sets the exact temperature of the pool enabling an athlete to recover quicker and avoid a lot of potential niggles & injuries. The best part of using an iCool is that there is no need to use ice machines or have access to expensive whirlpools. I have mine set up in the spare room at home and it is so easy & convenient to pop into the iCool after all my hard sessions (always with my beanie & hot cup of tea of course :))

I’ve submerged my legs in icy mountain streams and also dumped a bunch of ice cubes in a bathtub for a soak after some hard training sessions. How is iCoolsport superior to these methods? 

I think the big key to my ability to race so often & not having time off with injuries is being consistent with my recovery. Our Olympic Gold Medallist Triathlete Emma Snowsill uses the iCool up to three times a day during her heavy training schedule. Recovery is so important to get right & it is one aspect of your training that is easy to do really well. Icing in a mountain stream is ok…but the temperatures are not consistent & you do not always have a mountain stream right beside your training venue. Often the mountain streams are not actually cold enough, and when they are cold enough, the temperature outside is pretty cold too. Whereas if you have your own iCool at home or at your local gym/training centre, you can keep the rest of your body nice and warm whilst you are icing your lower body and not worry about catching a cold. Stephanie Rice our Olympic Gold Medallist swimmer is another good example. Immediately after her swimming training Steph goes home to use her own personal iCool allowing her to recover much better so she can cope with more & higher quality workouts. There is no need to constantly get more ice or fill up a bath wasting precious time, water & ice. Plus there is not a mountain stream located right beside the pool! 

The iCool is the most powerful lightweight cooling system in the world & the only portable ice bath system that can be set to the exact temperature and maintain a consistent cold temperature all day long. A big problem with ice baths in the USA is sanitation. Standard ice baths get pretty grotty after a few athletes have been through them. Some teams even use trash cans filled with ice for their recovery. iCool uses the latest technology particle filtration & UV clarification so that multiple athletes can use the bath & there Is no worry about sharing nasty bacteria & germs!

One of the iCool products is the contrast heating unit. What’s the science behind alternate cooling/heating of sore muscles? Who are the target athletes for this product? (i.e., pros rather than age groupers? Or athletes from particular sports? Etc) 

The boys from HTC-Columbia High Road are a great example of a team that use the iCools for hot/cold contrast therapy. They alternate one minute in the cold bath at 54F & one minute in the hot bath at 94F to pump out the toxic build up that accumulates in the muscles after hard training/racing. They have shown a great improvement in blood markers after using the iCools for their recovery (see video interview with HTC-Columbia Head Doctor).

It is probably even more important for the age-groupers than the pros as the age-groupers are not as efficient therefore tend to get more injuries, and also they are out there for a longer period of time so expose their bodies to higher stress. The research has proven that the iCools help induce vasoconstriction, stimulate venous return, aid metabolite removal after exercise, reduce swelling & muscle soreness & reduce core body temperature.

Is there anything a consumer needs to have at their disposal, such as a swimming pool, for the iCool products to work?

No. The consumer does not need their own swimming pool. Every iCool comes with its own portable inflatable pool. There are several pool options included with each system from a single person inflatable, to a 4 person demountable unit.

How does someone determine what temperatures (hot and cold) and what length of time they should soak in an iCool bath?

The recommended protocol for CWI ( cold water immersion) is 10 minutes in the iCool cold bath set at 50-55 Fahrenheit. For CWT (Contrast Water Therapy) it is1 minute in the iCool cold bath (50-55 Fahrenheit ) and 1 minute in the iCool hot bath, or 1 minute of high knee lifts, repeated about 3 times.

Can you compare what a typical training block was like for you, pre- and post-iCoolsport, and how having this product has improved your ability to train and recover at your best?

There is no doubt that the iCool has helped me recover quicker & perform better. Before using the iCool I would suffer much more accumulative fatique from training & would also suffer from more post exercise soreness & niggles. Over the past 3 months I have run 8 races (including 2 marathons & 1 half marathon) winning 6 times! I would not have been able to do this without my iCool. :)

iCoolsport has a large following of professional athletes who swear by it. Who are some of the big names in the triathlon/endurance world who use it? How was this product introduced to them? 

Emma Snowsill, Felicity Abraham, Greg & Laura Bennett, HTC-Columbia, Cadel Evans, Stephanie Rice are all iCool users. Ryan Hall & Meb Keflezighi have trialed it & Craig Alexander is about to get one for his training base in Boulder. The PGA golfers use them and Tom Cruise even has his own iCool to help him recover from long days of filming!

Finally, where can people around the world purchase iCoolsport products, and what’s the price range? Are there retailers where customers can test out an iCoolsport bath? 



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