Cold Therapy for Faster Muscle Recovery

To follow up on the debate between hot and cold therapy posted previously on Hot Headz, we’re taking a closer look at cold therapy and how it aids in muscle recovery. 

Cryotherapy 101

Cold therapy is also called cryotherapy as cryo- is the Greek word for cold. It makes use of low temperatures which can be applied to specific regions or through full body exposure. For instance, placing an ice pack or a Nature’s Approach Aromatherapy Herbal Pack on a sprain is a form of localized cold treatment, while an ice bath is considered full body cryotherapy. Very Well Fit recommends icing aches and damaged areas for 10 minutes at a time, 3 to 5 times a day. You can also try whole body cryotherapy which involves stepping into a cold chamber to be exposed to subzero temperatures.

However, you should also note that the best results of cryotherapy are for healing superficial tissue, minor injuries or muscle soreness. During workouts, HomeGymr explains that muscles are put in a state of constant breakdown and repair which results in microscopic tears. Contrary to the major tears that lead to sprains, micro-tears are an essential part of muscle growth but they can also be a source of aches and pains, especially the day after a workout. Applying cold treatment right away can delay the onset of muscle soreness or reduce the extent of the tenderness.


(image: Pexels)

As for injuries, cryotherapy can aid in pain management for fractures, but it will not magically repair broken bones. According to a Brazilian cryotherapy study, the main benefit is to decrease inflammation around an injured area as it can alleviate the inflammatory response. Experts believe that cold treatment stimulates blood flow to the sore or injured body parts which helps increase the supply of oxygen and essential nutrients to the cells, vital to the healing process. While inflammation is an essential process of healing, when it becomes excessive that’s when it starts to cause extreme pain symptoms and needs to be regulated. 


The primary users of cryotherapy are athletes because of their increased vulnerability to a range of injuries. One of the famous faces that has been quite vocal about the benefits cold treatment has on the body is Cristiano Ronaldo who reportedly bought his own cryotherapy chamber. Sources say that he steps into the chamber for periods of 2-3 minutes once a week to recover from injury and maintain his body in top shape. It’s in part what has helped him become an international superstar; Ronaldo’s success has made him one of the most popular athletes in the world and one of the greatest soccer players ever. It goes without saying that his approach to achieving peak condition has worked thus far and other sports stars from LeBron James to Floyd Mayweather also regularly undergo cryotherapy. 

But athletes are not the only ones who can benefit from cold treatment. The average person with chronic pain can also turn to the different modalities of cryotherapy to help with their ailments. Symptoms of certain medical conditions can also be treated with cryotherapy; many people with arthritis have found that cold packs can provide temporary relief from joint pain which can help provide a better quality of life. Right now, experts are still figuring out why cryotherapy has proven to be effective in muscle recovery and injury rehabilitation. Nonetheless, the evidence points to the fact that it relieves inflammation, a process that reduces pain symptoms and speeds up the healing process. Compared to other forms used to recover from injury or soreness, most types of cold treatment are simple, non-invasive and affordable.

 

Feature solely written for hotheadz.net

by Karla Hemsley

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