Cristiano Ronaldo bought a cryo chamber for his home and Leicester City had it installed at their training center before their historic Premier League-winning season. Let’s see what cryotherapy is all about.
Social media is full of interesting posts, pictures, and videos how famous footballers use ice baths and cold pools after their workouts and matches. Live football streams show us another field where so-called “cryotherapy” – local or general use of a cold application to treat a variety of tissue damage – is widely used.
When a player gets injured during a match, it definitely depends on a pathology, but often a first aid, in that case, is an ice therapy or a physio applies a vapocoolant spray (magic spray), in both cases one of the purposes is an analgesic effect – to relieve pain. In today’s blog, we are going to dig into a field of cryotherapy for a better regeneration in football.
Did you know:
One of the best overall and most athletic football players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo, has bought a cryotherapy chamber for his home in 2013.
1. Carefully think about the effect you want to get
Cold applied to the skin has a lot of useful effects. They are all based on a physiological basis and influence blood circulation, neuromuscular and metabolic system.
- Hemodynamic effects (blood circulation): Acute effects of cold applied to a skin are narrowing of the blood vessels and reduction in blood flow – that is useful when you sprain your ankle and you want to limit swelling. Extensive use of cold may result in a totally different effect that is called vasodilatation – widening of blood vessels. The dilatation of blood vessels decreases blood pressure. Not only that, there is also less oxygen available to the tissues. Therefore, application of cold should be limited to 15-20 minutes, or swelling will get bigger.
- Neuromuscular effects: The most known neurological effect of cold is the decreased sensation of pain – that’s useful when you get hit in a muscle by an opponent. But, did you know, that 5 minutes of cold applied to a skin decreases nerve conduction velocity? This means that you need at least 15 minutes after you remove cold from your skin to be able to contract your muscles at the same speed again. Allow your body to re-warm. Cold also decreases muscle strength.
- Metabolic effects: It decreases all metabolic reactions. Cooling your body temporarily slows its metabolism and therefore a long-term extensive use of cold has detrimental effects on training adaptations and recovery. It is useful, but should be used very carefully.
2. Use of cryotherapy
Because of its many positive effects, cold can be widely used. It is useful for pain and edema (swelling) control, to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness, to recover muscle contractile properties and many other conditions. You can use ice, cold packs or ice packs, cold water immersion (cold pools), contrast baths, contrast showers etc. An ultimate goal is to speed up body recovery and regeneration. But how? Continue reading and pick up some tips.
Pain and edema control
No matter how careful you are injury can occur anytime. With a small effort, you can speed up your rehabilitation. Cryotherapy reduces post injury trauma and for minor musculoskeletal injuries, it is recommended to use RICE principle as soon as possible after an acute trauma.
Rest (take a break), apply an Ice pack or a cold pack (use two repetitions of 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off, 3 times per day; do not apply ice directly to the skin), gently Compress the injured area with an elastic bandage and Elevate the injured limb at or above your heart.
The ice pack is less expensive than cold pack and provides more intensive cooling. However, cold pack is quicker to apply and with both you can cover large areas. For small areas, you can use an ice cup to apply ice massage. Rub ice using small, overlapping circles until you experience less pain at the site of application or when you skin starts changing its color to red (typically after 5-10 minutes).
Methods for boosting your regeneration
But you are reading this blog to learn how to use cryotherapy to boost your regeneration for better soccer performance and not to be injured. You can use these three useful methods mentioned below.
Cold water immersion (cold pools, cold baths, ice baths):
- 2-3 minutes
- 12-15 degrees Celsius
- use neoprene trousers for body protection
- 30-60 seconds comfort hot
- 30-60 seconds cold (12-15 degrees Celsius)
- repeat up to 5 times
Contrast water therapy:
- 1-3 minutes in spa (38-40 degrees Celsius)
- 30-60 secondsof cold pool or shower (12-15 degrees Celsius)
- repeat up to 5 times
There are some contraindications and precautions for using methods mentioned above. Cold hypersensitivity and cold intolerance are only two of them. Follow this method only if you are healthy and have no soft-tissue injuries.
3. Sensations in a response to cryotherapy
Burning, aching and analgesia are typical sensations in response to cryotherapy. Any other sensation, except intense cold, should be carefully monitored. Cryotherapy must be always controlled or adverse effects may occur. Sitting too long in a cold bath may cause you problems with your internal organs. Staying more than 5 minutes in a pool under 10 degrees Celsius may cause a large drop in blood pressure. It is also recommended to use neoprene trousers when entering cold pool/bath.
4. So, should you jump into a cold pool after every training?
Training causes acute and temporary lower functional ability and performance. Use of cryotherapy after a training improves tissue oxygenation, removes metabolic waste, reduces delayed-onset muscle soreness, there are less reflex muscle spasms and, as you already know, it causes analgesia – you feel less pain (there are also some other positive effects). Remember this, cryotherapy is more useful after a metabolic type of training, for example after aerobic interval training, or some speed endurance workout. Benefits of cryotherapy following resistance training are less clear and on the other hand, may attenuate strength and hypertrophy gains. The answer to the previous question is, therefore, no.
Now you have some useful tips regarding cryotherapy. It is up to you to use them wisely. Don`t forget to combine cryotherapy with other methods for better regeneration mentioned in our previous blog. Stay cool(ed).