With football season drawing to an end, methods of muscle recovery have come into question after a young U16 AFL footballer got more than he bargained for during a post-match recovery session at Dendy Street Beach in Brighton, Victoria last month.

The footballer was standing still in freezing water and was attacked by what was thought to be sea lice; eating through the epidermal layer of skin on his ankles and feet. It wasn’t until he had got out of the water and walked for about 20 meters that he realised he was actually bleeding.

The victim told 3AW, "[I couldn't feel anything] because the cold water basically numbed my legs, I felt what I thought was pins and needles". 

Further studies of the meat loving creatures actually revealed them to be scavenging crustacean’s known as lysianassid amphipods which usually feast on decaying sea life.

Many footballers take to the ocean for recovery and there are several benefits that show how effective cold-water baths are for muscle recovery; such as in an article published by Intelligenttriathlontraining.com that states it can;

  • Improve blood circulation to help remove waste products from the muscles
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve muscle activation
  • Reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
  • Improve next day training ability
  • Allow optimum fuel recovery
  • Psychological benefits –improved well being
  • Overall improved muscle function

Whilst this incident may be rare, it isn’t uncommon for swimmers to exit the ocean with a sea-lice rash. Perhaps now we now need to put sea-lice on the risk register for muscle recovery.