Should Athletes Be Using Cryotherapy?Cryotherapy – which means “cold therapy” – has become increasingly popular with athletes ranging from NBA stars to weekend warriors over the past several years. You may have heard of it before but might not be familiar with exactly what this type of therapy does to the body. The following answers some common questions to determine whether athletes should be using this ramped-up version of cold therapy for athletic recovery:
What is cryotherapy?This type of cold therapy exposes your entire body to very cold temperatures ranging from around -166 to -222 degrees F for around 2 to 4 or 5 minutes at a time.
What benefits does it provide to athletes?Athletes have long used ice in treating injuries and to help the body recover after strenuous workouts. Ice packs can help reduce swelling and pain, and ice baths have similar effects. Taken to the next level, cold therapy can aid in athletic recovery after a workout in the following ways:
- Workout recovery – It supports better recovery, especially after intense workouts. The treatment reduces metabolism and thus minimizes tissue damage, And since it reduces blood flow to injured areas, it minimizes pain, inflammation, and swelling.
- Muscle recovery – Muscle healing can be improved with the use of extreme cold. It boosts blood flow to your muscles, which helps them heal faster.
- Treating aches and pains – As a ramped-up, all-body version of an ice pack or bath, it numbs nerves and thus relieves the sensation of aches and pains. It also reduces blood flow to the injured area, which reduces swelling and inflammation.
- Injury recovery – Cold therapy can help you recover more quickly from an injury by reducing pain and inflammation.
- Increased flexibility – Tissues under the skin become warmer during this treatment, which results in your muscles relaxing and blood flowing more rapidly. This leads to increased flexibility.