Tailbacks Deal With Aches, Pains

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' team plane arrived at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport at around 1 a.m. Sunday morning.

Twelve hours later, running back Darren McFadden was sitting in a tub of ice water, feeling numb from the waist down.

His shoulders and legs were sore from the constant pounding he took -- and delivered -- during a 41-38 loss at Alabama that he nearly won single-handedly.

He also had a slight concussion, the product of a physical game in which he carried the football a career-high 33 times for 195 yards and two touchdowns.

"After a hard game like that, I came in Sunday morning and got in the cold tub," McFadden said. "Just sat there for a few minutes and let my body get back (to being) adjusted."

The day after a football game is when players feel the effects of all the hard hits their bodies absorbed on the field. Running backs are no different.


To get their legs feeling fresh and their bodies feeling as good as they can be during the grind of a 12-game college football season, some running backs submerge themselves in ice water and get daily massages. Others don't do much at all.

"This is all about a feel-good game," Arkansas athletic trainer Dean Weber said.

One of the more common methods that running backs use to help their bodies get rejuvenated is sitting in the cold tub.

"I feel like when it numbs your body, it just takes a lot of the aches and pains away," McFadden said. "And then at the same time, it feels good, too."

Of course, the Heisman Trophy front-runner said he can't last more than 10-15 minutes in the ice water or else he'll "freeze up."

Weber said the cold water speeds up circulation throughout the body, and it has the same effect as when people play in the snow and their hands get red. That's blood coming to the surface of the skin.

"If you stay in (the cold tub) long enough, it speeds up the circulation. It gives your legs a lift, if you will, or your body," Weber said. "There are some people that get refreshed by it."

Arkansas running back Felix Jones, however, isn't a fan of the cold tub. In fact, when it comes to rehabbing his body following a game, the junior said his routine is as simple as it gets.

"Maybe take some medicine or something," Jones said. "I don't know, go to sleep."

Jones said it takes a few days after a game for his body to stop feeling sore. McFadden usually feels refreshed by Tuesday, and he has insisted this week that he'll be ready for Saturday night's game against No. 21 Kentucky in Reynolds Razorback Stadium (5 p.m. ESPN2).


Florida running back Kestahn Moore, meanwhile, has a fairly structured routine in the days before and after a game.

On Sundays and Mondays, he sits in the cold tub and does some extra stretching. He'll let his body rest in the ice water sometimes for as long as 15 minutes, depending on how sore he feels.

"Today I'll probably get in (for) seven minutes," Moore said Wednesday. "It just depends on how I'm feeling that day. Sometimes it varies."

That's not the end of Moore's weekly rehab, though.

The junior, who leads the third-ranked Gators with 217 yards rushing, said he gets a massage every day from Florida's training staff. The school also has a professional massage therapist on staff.

Some of Moore's massages last longer than others, depending on what parts of his body hurt. He also makes it a point to get a massage before every game.

"Usually before the games I get a massage so after the game I won't have as much stress on my body," Moore said.

McFadden said he doesn't get massages to help alleviate some of the soreness that comes from taking hits from defenders. He had some ice put on a sore spot on his right thigh Monday, but by the next day he said he felt fine.

"His recuperative capabilities are just -- beats anything I've ever seen," Weber said of McFadden. "It's just amazing how he recovers, not to say he doesn't have some aches and pains along the way, bumps and bruises if you will.

"But he's an awfully quick healer and recovers very quickly."

Last year, after McFadden severely injured the big toe on his left foot during an early morning fight, he had to go through more rehab in the days between games.

He said he'd get ice wrapped around his left foot for 10-15 minutes after every practice because his big toe had a tendency to swell up. Arkansas' trainers would also use an instrument to scrape the scar tissue off his toe.

But that's not a problem for him anymore. Aside from some pain in his right thigh and the after-effects of his slight concussion, McFadden said he felt fine this week in spite of his career-high workload.

"(My thigh) was a little sore on me," McFadden said. "But after Monday, everything was pretty much back to normal."

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