How Can Cryotherapy Benefit Athletes?
Athletes ask a lot of their body on a daily basis. Through training, recovery, performing, and repeating the process time and again, athletes must ensure their body is in the best shape possible if they want the results they so desire. The healthier they are, the better they perform!
With that said, athletes are often willing to do anything to put their body in a position to succeed, so long as it doesn’t threaten their health, wellness, or integrity. That’s why many athletes have started to trust the benefits of cryotherapy – whether it be localized or whole-body cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy, also known as extreme cold therapy, is the process of exposing the body to freezing temperatures. Localized cryotherapy includes ice baths, ice pack, coolant sprays, and ice massages. Whole-body cryotherapy utilizes a cryochamber that you stand in for a few minutes.
So, how can cryotherapy benefit athletes?
Cryotherapy in its simplest form dates back to ancient times, but whole-body cryotherapy was recently introduced in 1978 by Dr. Yamaguchi in Japan. Even then, it didn’t start to make real headway in the athletic community until recently – largely due to technological advancements. Let’s take a brief look at some of the major ways cryotherapy – localized and whole-body – can help athletes reach their goals:
As you can see, cryotherapy can help an athlete achieve better results before a workout, during a workout, after a workout, and even in competition. Of course, you might be wondering why this is and what’s really going on behind the scenes. Don’t worry, we’ll break it all down for you!
Perhaps the biggest benefit of cryotherapy for athletes is reduced inflammation. When the body is exposed to extreme temperatures, it restricts blood flow in the area by constricting blood vessels. When the body returns to normal, the vessels open up and blood rushes to the scene.
This rush of blood helps to improve blood circulation and blood flow in the body. Included in that blood are nutrients and oxygen, but also white blood cells and other immune cells. Antioxidants also rush to the scene, which helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Another one of the biggest benefits of cryotherapy for athletes is improved recovery. Since the recovery process is extremely important to an athlete’s overall performance, cold therapy is often utilized after working out or training. We see this often when athletes take an ice bath.
The reduced inflammation plays a large role in this, allowing for white blood cells and other nutrients to do what they do best – heal. Not only that, but the body begins repairing tissue and relieving muscle soreness. The sooner you recover, the sooner you can perform at a high level.
Many people overlook this benefit of cryotherapy for athletes, but it can go a long way in helping you perform your absolute best on a regular basis. Some studies suggest cryotherapy can improve flexibility due to a sudden increase in blood flow and higher temperature in the muscle.
When combined with stretching, cryotherapy can increase your flexibility – especially when done regularly. This improvement in flexibility also improves your posture, movement, coordination, and balance. It’ll also reduce your chances of suffering an injury during exercise.
Improved Mental Health
No one wants to be injured and no one wants to be stuck in a lengthy recovery process. Since cryotherapy improves recovery, it can also improve your mental health and cognitive function by increasing the confidence you have in your body and overall capability. It helps relax the mind.
Not only that, but cryotherapy can facilitate the release of endorphins, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and other hormones that might increase mood and mental health. You’ll be putting less stress on your body, less stress on your mind, and less stress on your individual workouts or training.
All the benefits listed above will collectively improve your overall performance during training or competition. The faster recovery process will have you feeling your best when it’s needed most. The flexibility will allow you the movement needed to perform at your best on a constant basis.
Not only that, but the mental health benefits will allow you to train and compete with a clear mind. You’ll be in better spirits and feel more confident in yourself, which goes a long way in helping you reach the next level in your area of play. When you feel your best, you’ll perform your best.
Famous Athletes Use Cryotherapy Regularly
Cryotherapy is nothing new to athletes today. In fact, it plays a major role in many famous athletes’ daily or weekly routine. For example, LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo are two athletes that swear by cryotherapy – and they’re two athletes at the top of their respective sport.