With Accuweather.com long-range forecasters looking at a favorable pattern for a stormy start to February, the athletes who make it into Super Bowl XLVIII will need to take some extra precautions to prepare for the potential cold.
The average high on Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, N.J., home of MetLife Stadium where this year's Big Game will play out, is 40 F. Around kick off time temperatures could drop into the mid- to low 30s. However, temperatures as low as 16 F have been recorded for that date and location.
For the athletes, that will mean taking some extra precautions. Josh Gregoire, athletic trainer for the Jacksonville Sharks and a former member of the Atlanta Falcons athletic training team, told AccuWeather.com that there are three main concerns for football players facing the cold.
"When the Falcons would go up north, we'd have to focus on muscle tightening," Gregoire said.
To prevent the extra strain on cold, tight muscles, the athletes would stretch more rigorously when traveling to play in colder climates, Gregoire explained.
"The goal was to keep them moving, keep the muscles loose," he said.
This included working out more during halftime to keep them going, or using heat packs to warm the muscles when the players would need to sit down.
Another big concern for players in colder weather was the result of shivering.
"We worried, as a staff, about shivering, which makes you burn quite a bit of extra calories," Gregoire said. "In football, they're already running and jumping and burning a lot of calories to begin with, so we want to conserve that extra energy and limit burning extra calories by keeping them warm."
Gregoire said that the calories lost from shivering would typically be rather nominal, but for athletes outside for three or more hours that extra energy expenditure is something to be avoided. Athletes will wear warmer jackets on the sidelines to help cut back on the cold, and are advised by their trainers to eat more calories the day of and the day before a cold game.
Some teams, such as the Green Bay Packers, are more used to the cold than others. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, File)
Proper hydration, which is always a crucial step for any athletic activity, is also a key part of keeping players healthy and safe in the cold. Gregoire said that staying well hydrated in the cold will help to prevent muscle strains.
The body eventually acclimates to the cold, but it can be a gradual process. Gregoire said that if any warmer climate or dome teams make it to the Super Bowl this year they will likely try to give themselves plenty of time to get used to the cold New Jersey winter before the game starts, which could help players adapt to the cold better.
"At this level of play, pretty much every athlete has played in the elements," Gregoire said. "Northern outdoor teams may be better acclimated, but I wouldn't say that it would put them at any exceptional advantage."