In the world of athletics, staying one step ahead of the competition is essential if you want to win. That’s why athletes, coaches, doctors, and personal trainers are constantly coming up with new ways to give athletes a competitive edge. Between new workouts, training regimens, diets, and supplements, competitive athletes are always looking for new ways to become better, faster, and stronger.
And when it comes to recovering from the intensity of competition, many athletes are turning to cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is allowing athletes to recover more quickly, which is allowing their bodies to reach their ultimate potential.
In this article, we’ll go over 5 reasons why cryotherapy for athletes is so effective and how it is helping them reach their fitness goals.
Cryotherapy: The Basics
To understand why cryotherapy has so many benefits for athletes, you’ll need an understanding of cryotherapy and how it works.
When the human body is exposed to very cold temperatures, the body reacts in an extreme way. The central nervous system orders the body to direct blood away from the extremities and toward the core of your body to keep your vital organs warm and functioning.
Cryotherapy intentionally triggers this process by exposing the body to cold temperatures in a small chamber, with temperatures going as low as -256 degrees Fahrenheit. Cryotherapy patients receive protective equipment to protect their hands, feet and sensitive areas. They then stand in the cold for up to three minutes, lowering their body temperature by up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once they exit the chamber, technicians and other staff keep an eye on the patient while their temperature comes back to normal. Although this process seems extreme, it offers surprising benefits that are valuable to any competitive athlete.
1. Comfortably Increases Muscle Recovery
Athletes have been cooling their bodies down to help decrease recovery times for many years. Unfortunately, none of their methods to bring their body temperatures down were very comfortable. Some athletes would take ice-filled baths, while others would stand out in the snow nearly naked. Some even take dips into the freezing ocean.
While cryotherapy is very cold, it isn’t as uncomfortable as other methods. For example, in order to get the benefits of taking an ice bath, you would need to submerge yourself in freezing water for over 20 minutes.
With cryotherapy, you only need three minutes to get the full effects of the treatment. It works by drawing the blood away from the muscles, which are then flooded with blood after they warm back up. This increases circulation and helps carry away lactic acid built up in the muscles.
Cryotherapy is also less dangerous because it is closely monitored by members of staff. They are standing by in case athletes can’t handle the cold and are closely watching to make sure they aren’t injured or overly uncomfortable.
2. Increases Brown Adipose Tissue
In the human body, there is a kind of fat called “brown adipose tissue”, or “brown fat”. Brown fat is a type of tissue that is used to regulate the temperature within the body. Mitochondria within the brown fat use the fat cells as energy and burn them up, which burns calories and generates heat.
Brown fat is difficult to produce, but studies have shown that brown fat is produced in greater amounts when the human body is exposed to cold. Cryotherapy stimulates the production of brown fat, which helps athletes burn fat and regulate their weight.
This makes it easier for athletes to burn fat and stay lean, putting them at a competitive advantage.
3. Pain Reduction
Athletes put tons of strain on their bodies, and this can cause pain and stiffness in their joints and ligaments. This can reduce their range of motion and their speed, which makes it hard to perform at their best.
Cryotherapy reduces the pain from overuse, which helps athletes perform more consistently. When the blood is drawn away from the muscles, ligaments, and joints, it reduces swelling and inflammation around the injury. This allows blood to flow to the stiff joints and aids in recovery.
It also gives the athlete their full range of motion back, making it easier to return to practice and preventing further injury.
4. Improves Mood and Energy
Any athlete knows that your mental game has to be as strong as your physical game. You need to be in the right headspace to reach your potential in competition, and your psychological status can make or break your game.
Cryotherapy improves the mood and energy of athletes by giving them a rush of endorphins. Your body releases the endorphins and serotonin as it goes into survival mode, and those endorphins make you feel happy, content, and energetic. This puts athletes in a good mood after training and helps them deal with the stress of training and competition.
Cryotherapy also helps patients sleep, which can improve their mood and energy levels as well.
5. Decrease Injury Recovery Time
An injury is a major problem for an athlete. While they are resting in bed, their competitors are getting stronger, training hard, and staying on top of their game. A serious injury can be hard on an athlete, both physically and mentally. It takes them out of the game and completely disrupts their lives.
Cryotherapy can help athletes return to the field faster by decreasing inflammation. The reduction of inflammation due to the cold is important, but the anti-inflammatory effect is also caused by norepinephrine, a chemical released by the body when it is under stress.
The rush of blood back into the muscles and ligaments also causes increased circulation to the injured area. This carries more nutrients to the injured tissue, which helps the athlete heal faster.
Cryotherapy For Athletes: The Future of Recovery
It is clear that cryotherapy for athletes is a great way for athletes to decrease their recovery time, heal their injuries faster, and give themselves a mental pick-me-up. With these benefits, it’s no wonder why cryotherapy is taking off amongst professional athletes all over the world.
If you have any questions about cryotherapy or how it can improve your athletic performance, please visit our blog and check out our services.