You may have heard the term cryotherapy bandied around the changing rooms by team coaches and medics but if you’re often left wondering what it means, what it entails, what the benefits are and why it’s so popular, then don’t worry, you’re not alone. Read on and we’ll take you through the hows, whys and what-ifs of cryotherapy whilst answering the most common questions, giving you a full insight into the world of this revolutionary sports therapy. So let’s start from the beginning . . .
What is Cryotherapy?
A step up from the post match ice bath, Cryotherapy is a form of extreme cold therapy that has taken the sporting world by storm. Not only does it speed up the recovery of damaged muscle tissues and ligaments, but it also reduces pain and inflammation after a strenuous game or training session, meaning you can be back on the pitch in no time. There are 2 main ways of administering cryotherapy, the first being in a cryo chamber, where the whole body is exposed to freezing temperatures for no longer than 3 minutes at a time. The other is by using a cryo cuff and cooler. These are specially designed pieces of equipment that are used to provide ice cold compression to the affected area for a sustained period of time. This is extremely popular for treating the knee, ankle, shoulder, back or elbow.
History of Cryotherapy?
The tem cryotherapy originates from the Greek “cryo” and “therapeia” which translates to cold therapy. Although this is a relatively new concept to sports treatments, it has actually been around for longer than you may think, dating back to 2500 BC when the ancient Egyptians used to treat inflammations and injuries with ice and snow. Fast forward to more recent time and WBC, or Whole Body Cryotherapy as it’s more commonly known was first introduced by Dr Yamaguchi in Japan, 1978. The use of extreme cold therapy was revolutionary for its time and was initially used to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis as a way to control the pain. Dr Yamaguchi soon discovered that a sudden drop in temperature led to the immediate release of endorphins which resulted in less sensitivity to pain. This was a groundbreaking revelation for modern treatments.
Stages of Cryotherapy – How does it work?
The effects of Cryotherapy can be felt immediately and depending on the severity of the injury can last hours, days or even weeks without further treatment. However, if more sessions are required then you can use a sports specific cryo cuff and cooler for up to 30 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times a day if necessary. The cold compression gets to work by targeting the affected area, rapidly reducing the temperature surrounding it, resulting in less pain, inflammation and swelling. It then enriches the blood with more oxygen, releasing endorphins, therefore accelerating the recovery process.
Side Effects of Cryotherapy?
While the benefits of Cryotherapy significantly outweigh the negatives, it’s worth mentioning that there could be a few side effects of the treatment. On the whole nothing too serious, and the effects should only be short term, but at least you will be aware of what to expect before you start. These could include:
- Itching or irritation of the skin
Does Cryotherapy Work?
In a word, yes. When we get injured, blood flow is increased, and inflammatory cells collect around the affected area, which can be extremely debilitating, causing pain, swelling and of course loss of function. Now, we all know that ice packs and freeze sprays are nothing new to reduce these symptoms, but they can only do so much. Therefore if the injury requires more treatment, this is where Cryotherapy comes into its own. The use of extreme cold offers instant relief with long lasting results and a quicker recovery time, so when used correctly, Cryotherapy is a tried and tested procedure which has been approved by many medical professionals worldwide.
Cryotherapy for Back Pain?
If you’ve tried to relieve chronic back pain but to no avail, then it might be time for Cryotherapy. By using a localised cryo cuff specifically for the back, you can target the area with ease and benefit from the results instantly. The versatile cuff is fully adjustable thanks to its wraparound design, making it easier than ever to get the perfect fit with every use. Cryotherapy works in minutes and is extremely effective at reducing pain and inflammation. And let’s be honest, it’s better than sitting in an ice bath for days on end!