What Do Football Players Rub on Their Skin During Cold Weather?
Football is a game that is often played in extreme weather. At the start of the year, players practice in intense heat and humidity that can be draining and dangerous. However, as the season progresses and the weather turns cold, players are at risk to skin exposure during frigid weather. In order to protect themselves, players may put protective barriers on their skin.
Even in games played in extreme cold weather conditions -- less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit -- you still see many offensive linemen on the field playing with bare arms. This is often done for tactical reasons. Defensive players will grab any part of a player's garb to use it as an edge for gaining leverage. This would include long sleeves. As a result, players rub petroleum jelly over all exposed parts of the skin to prevent heat from escaping. However, officials often take a dim view of the petroleum jelly because players are not allowed to make themselves more slippery to opponents. They will allow petroleum jelly in extreme cold conditions, but they will not allow it to be slathered on in heavy amounts.
Some players will use a cream especially designed to warm the skin under brumal -- wintertime -- conditions. This type of produce is a popular alternative for players when the weather is not only cold but windy. It doesn't necessarily keep heat in, but it does shield players from the impact of the wind, according to former Philadelphia Eagle defensive back Brian Dawkins.
Players like to use muscular balms and rubs on their bodies when playing in brutal conditions. When the temperatures are extremely cold, muscles tend to tighten up. Products that produce heat warm up the muscles and keep them looser for longer periods. While the effect will not last throughout the game, these products can be re-applied at halftime.
Some players who have to face brutal winter conditions come up with their own warming options. They may combine petroleum jelly with a muscle balm so it spreads more evenly on their bodies. Some players will add an ointment that produces a lot of heat to the mixture. This ointment is normally applied to sore muscles, athletic injuries and arthritis. However, it can also be an effective ingredient in homemade skin rubs for players who have to play in cold weather.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.