Ice therapy (AKA cold or cryo therapy) is mostly recommend as the first course of action for a less severe muscle injury because it has the property of reducing inflammation and improving blood circulation to the tissue affected. Advanced cryotherapy plays a very important role in modern day sports and fitness, especially to athletes and fitness personnel who engage in some form of physical exercise that may cause severe muscle fatigue.
Does Cryotherapy Really Work?
Simply put, cryotherapy is body cooling for therapeutic purposes. It involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures for several minutes so as to derive certain therapeutic benefits. Traditionally, cryotherapy has been applied as ice packs or cold water immersions (CWI), however, with recent improvements of it’s application, whole body cryotherapy (WBC) in the form of cryosaunas and cryotherapy chambere have become widely popular.
According to Bleakley et al, (2014), whole body cryotherapy involves exposure of the body to extremely cold controlled environment of dry air, usually within -100°c and -140°c for about 2 to 5 minutes. This procedure is highly unlikely to have much side effects that is associated with some other forms of cryotherapy, however, the presence of the tingling skin sensation is still very much around it.
Studies reveals that cryotherapy is beneficial to athletes as it enhances performance and promotes attention during tasking sports activities. WBC for one, has been shown to improve the vitality pre-workout of athletes who engage in strenuous muscle exercise that could lead to muscle wear and tear. In a study carried out by Banfi and his team, (2010), found evidences that whole body cryotherapy suitably adjusts physiological and behavioral functions in human athletes, thereby improving core factors that are responsible for athlete vitality, such as reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines, adaptive changes in antioxidant status, and promotive effects on muscular enzymes associated with muscle damage (creatine kinase and lactose dehydrogenase).
Whole Body Cryotherapy for Pre-Workout
Cryotherapy has become a widely used therapy by athletes and fitness/exercise personnel to improve the overall workout capacity. It is used prior to a workout session or on the pitch activity to improve the physical and psychological fitness level so as to gain more consciousness and improved performance. A lot of studies regarding cryotherapy shows how important it is to athletes and fitness personnel post workout, whereas, few existing ones boils down to talk about it’s relevance pre-workout. Therefore, that leaves us with the question, how is cryotherapy beneficial to improving vitality before workout?
As identified by Fonda and Sarabon, (2013), cryotherapy is a therapy that is beneficial to improving vitality pre-workout because it:
Helps in relaxation and treat mood disorders – As a result of the extreme cold temperatures of cold therapy, most especially in WBC, physiological changes which positively affects hormones respond to body changes. This causes hormones that affect mood to become active. Hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and endorphins produce a positive effect which act against anxiety and depression, thus fostering a relaxed and conscious state. This state further prepares the athlete for a head-start (adrenaline rush), prior to a workout or field session.
Numbs nerve irritation – Sequel to a previous exercise or sporting activity which led to a muscle strain or sprain, causing severe pain and nerve irritation, WBC has been found to be highly efficient in cooling off pain. Hence, cryotherapy is used to numb pain and prepare one for a workout session by reducing inflammation and blocking pain receptors that responds to mild and severe pain sensations. This has been proven to be highly efficient in preparing an athlete’s vital function for sporting performance.
Increases energy – Furthermore, as identified by Ziemann et al, (2013), cryotherapy is beneficial as it improves the vitality of sports personnel before workout because of its ability to increase energy level experience, muscle endurance and physical flexibility. This is due to the effect that it has on the body that increase blood flow, heart rate and oxygenated blood perfusion.
Therefore, with research and experience, the relevance of cold therapy as a method of improving the vitality and recovery times of athletes and fitness professionals has been given clarity to. Hence, the use of cryotherapy not only borders on the confines of post workout treatment of injury, pain and relaxation, but it has sound practical relevance for pre-workout as well.
Bleakley, C.M., Bieuzen, F., Davison, G.W., and Costello, J.T, (2014). Whole-body chryotherapy: empirical evidence and theoretical perspectives. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine 2014:5 25-36. http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/OAJSM.S41655.
Banfi, G., Lombardi G., Colombini A., Melegati, G, (2010). Whole-body cryotherapy in athletes. Sports Med. 2010;40:509–517.
Fonda, B., and Sarabon, N, (2013). Effects of whole-body cryotherapy on recovery after hamstring damaging exercise: A crossover study; Scand J Med Sci Sports 2013: 23: e270–e278 doi: 10.1111/sms.12074
Ziemann E, Olek RA, Grzywacz T, Kaczor JJ, Antosiewicz J, Skrobot W, Kujach S, Laskowski R. (2013). Whole-body cryostimulation as an effective way of reducing exercise-induced inflammation and blood cholesterol in young men. Eur. Cytokine Netw. 2013; 25(1): 14-23 doi:10.1684/ecn.2014.0349.