For U.S. Olympic champion and decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton, like all professional athletes, every perceivable advantage counts. In the decathlon competition, Eaton seeks to maximize each break between the 10 events to minimize fatigue and be ready to go in the next. Wondering why it felt so good after running to pour a bottle of water over his head, he realized while there may not be a physiological answer, because he felt better, he performed better.

Simultaneously, the Nike Sports Research Lab (NSRL) was exploring the performance benefits of cooling the face. Conclusive evidence of physiological gains emerged — specifically, an understanding of the face’s consciousness and recognition of temperature. It is two to five times more sensitive than other body surface areas. According to a recent post on Nike News, Eaton’s thoughts on recovery in hot conditions, and his desire for an “ice hat”, spurred this collaboration between the athlete, the NSRL and the Nike Apparel Innovation Team. From there, the cooling hood prototype was born.


“Pre-cooling” is one the the latest trends in sports recovery which involves lowering an athlete’s core body temperature before competition or training for enhanced performance. When exercising in the heat, the body sweats more, which reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to working muscles, making training more difficult. The New York Times first reported on pre-cooling back in 2012. The German World Cup team wore ice vests and sleeves during warm-up and half-time in the 2014 World Cup, and the 2004 U.S. Triathlon Team used ice vests before their races.

According to another recent New York Times article Slushies vs. Frozen Underwear for Hot-Weather Workouts, studies have shown that, in broad terms, pre-cooling works, even in such simple ways as a cold shower or an icy drink. You can exercise in the heat for longer periods of time and at a higher intensity than if you do not first chill out. With the dog days of summer upon us, it is worth giving anything a try to beat the heat!