Ok – we mean what should a squash coach tell their athlete about practicing or training with a cold? Colds are a big issue in the squash world since squash is a winter sport (except if it is the Olympics or you play and train in the Southern Hemisphere:).
Recent conventional sport medicine wisdom has suggested “Symptoms above the neck – ok to play; symptoms below the neck (i.e., chest congestion) better to rest. A recent New York Times article sent to me by fellow Smith College Coach Kim Bierwert, cites research that indicates that playing squash and working out might make you feel better and definitely will not make you feel worse!
The article reported on two little known, but ingenious studies, published in 1997 and 1998 in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise:
Results from the First Study:
“At the start of the study, the investigators tested all of the subjects, assessing their lung functions and exercise capacity. Then a cold virus was dropped into the noses of 45 of the subjects, and all caught head colds. Two days later, when their cold symptoms were at their worst, the subjects exercised by running on treadmills at moderate and intense levels. The researchers reported that having a cold had no effect on either lung function or exercise capacity.”
Results from the Second Study:
“This time, the subjects were 34 young men and women who were randomly assigned to a group that would exercise with their colds and 16 others who were assigned to rest. The group that exercised ran on treadmills for 40 minutes every other day at moderate levels of 70 percent of their maximum heart rates…The investigators found no difference in symptoms between the group that exercised and the one that rested. And there was no difference in the time it took to recover from the colds.”
This latter finding is particularly important for squash players, since heart rates during squash matches typically average about 70-80% of maximum – in other words the results should be highly applicable. If your athletes are still not up for playing squash after reading this post, they can still benefit from performing some of the activities on our Injury Checklist.
Application for Squash Coaches:
- Squash athletes with mild to moderate colds can play and train at moderate levels (about 70%) without increasing the duration of their cold or the severity of their symptoms.
References (links are to abstracts of original articles):
Weidner, T.G.; Anderson, B.N.; Kaminsky, L.A.; Dick, E.C.; Schurr, T., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise May 1997: Vol. 29 Issue 5. p. 604-609.