Many people looking to enhance their sports performance and limit downtime might benefit greatly from cryotherapy. But what is cryotherapy, and is it right for you? This is what you need to know to ease sore muscles, expedite the recovery phase, and get back out on the playing field as soon as possible.
What is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is almost like a huge ice bath, but in technical terms, it is any treatment that uses nearly frozen or extremely cold temperatures for medicinal purposes. Cryotherapy has been around at least since 2500 BCE as a viable way to aid the healing process. It is now a treatment modality that has been perfected and used for everything from freezing off abnormal cell growth to a tool for athletes from all walks of life. In general, it helps to reduce recovery time and aids in the healing process. But what are its benefits and side effects?
How Does Whole-Body Cryotherapy Work?
Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to create a targeted burst of cold air. Those bouts of extremely cold temperatures signal the body to go into “survival mode.” When your body responds, it redirects blood flow from your arms and legs and concentrates it to your core musculature. When the cold therapy is removed, the body rebounds, oxygen and nutrients flow freely as they should, and your body warms up. As it does, there is a superburst of nutrient-rich oxygen and blood recirculating throughout the body, delivering what your muscles and joints need.
What are the Benefits of Cryotherapy?
Although everybody responds differently to the process of cryotherapy, in general, benefits include:
- Anti-inflammatory agent
- Shorter recovery times
- Muscle healing
- Pain relief
Inflammation or generalized edema leads to stiffness, soreness, and pain. Cryotherapy minimizes inflammation, and by reducing it, expedites the healing process and reduces the pain that can limit function and recovery.
Shorter Recovery Times
As an athlete, recovery time is one of your worst adversaries. Your muscles need time to repair, heal, and build. The recovery period is critical to building lean muscle mass and improving performance. Cryotherapy works by reducing the amount of time that your body needs to repair and build. It is especially ideal after intense workouts because it can reduce a lot of the soreness and stiffness that can keep you off of the playing field!
Many studies have demonstrated a marked improvement in muscle healing post-cryotherapy. Just as athletes use ice in the recovery period, cryotherapy is more targeted and has the same, if not even more, added benefits to expedite healing.
Many athletes and non-athletes alike use the assistance of ice to reduce pain. Ice works by numbing the injured area, and halting pain receptors. Cryotherapy works in the same way by temporarily stopping pain in muscles and nerves throughout the body!
Are There Any Risks?
Using cryotherapy for parts of your body, or whole-body treatment, comes with risks of things like burning, tingling, numbing, and redness. In more serious cases, there are risks of frostbite and rashes, if the therapy is not monitored or performed correctly. Currently, there is no evidence about the long-term effects of cryotherapy, but putting the body under any treatment that doesn’t support optimal functioning can come with adverse side effects. If you have professional monitoring, however, the chances of any serious side effects are pretty slim!
At Strength and Recovery, we believe in treating the entire person by using all of the tools at our disposal, including cryotherapy. We offer the latest advances in cryotherapy equipment and have the expertise, training, and knowledge to maximize your benefits and reduce the risk of adverse effects. Contact us today to get started!