Whether we are looking at a professional athlete or a novice bodybuilder, one thing that is shared among these people would be muscle soreness. Delayed onset muscle soreness, often coined “DOMS,” is something that all athletes are familiar with. When this type of muscle soreness kicks in, it can have a drastic effect on the athlete’s ability to continue training, and even cause a delay in their recovery.
Cryotherapy is now suggested as a therapeutic solution for athletes. The technique may assist in speeding up recovery, and could even be a useful component in the prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness. Let’s take a closer look at what cryotherapy is and what research says about this therapy.
What Is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is not something new. In fact, this therapy has been used for a long time in athletes, as well as to assist in reducing pain and inflammation following an acute injury. Ice packs form the basis for cryotherapy. Then there are the athletes who prefer to take an ice bath for a couple of minutes following a game. Many athletes believe that this technique is highly effective at providing a significant improvement in muscle recovery and reducing the risk of delayed onset muscle soreness.
As technology has advanced, chambers have been constructed to provide cryotherapy. Many athletes are now utilizing this technology to benefit from the therapy without the need to lie down in an ice bath for half an hour.
Cryotherapy chambers provide a much more significant reduction in temperature. This is a whole-body experience, compared to ice packs that are more targeted. The athlete would step into the cryotherapy chamber for only about three minutes to gain full advantage of the therapy.
Research On Cryotherapy In Athletes
Multiple studies have been conducted to provide evidence on how effective cryotherapy is for the athletes, as well as for acute injuries.
A study by the National Institute of Sport in France compared the efficiency of cryotherapy to that of passive modalities and far-infrared following muscle damage. Muscle damage was induced by an intense training session. Cryotherapy yielded superior results and was able to provide restoration in muscle strength, whereas the other two therapies yielded delayed results.
In another study, inflammatory responses following a session of severe exercise were monitored. Cryotherapy was the primary therapeutic technique used to treat induced muscle damage. C-reactive protein levels were reduced, along with Interleukin (IL-1) levels. The conclusion here was that inflammatory markers are significantly reduced with the use of cryotherapy.
While further research is still needed to provide more accurate evidence, there are studies that have shown Cryotherapy can effectively reduce creatine kinase in an athlete’s blood, which indicates speed up in recovery. Pain and inflammation can also be reduced with the use of this cold chamber therapy technique.