Most of us are familiar with the acronym RICE to treat an injury. Rest, ice, compress, and elevate has been a standard in treating injuries, especially to muscles. Not resting injured muscles can increase the soreness and inflammation, prolonging the healing process. Icing, a form of cryotherapy for athletic recovery, is an important part of this process because reducing tissue temperature helps ease pain and inflammation, which can boost recovery. However, traditional icing comes with risks and challenges. It can be difficult to ice for long periods of time, to lower the temperature of the injured site sufficiently, or to have the ability to ice.
While it can be challenging, icing is important after an injury, especially if the injury is exercise related. Exercise generates heat, so does mechanical or metabolic stress. The increased heat increases the body’s initial damage response. Icing soon after an injury helps slow the secondary injury process.
Something that can make icing easier is the use of phase change material. Phase change material is a fancy way of saying gel ice packs. These packs are superior to using ice directly on injuries for several reasons. First, they maintain a cold temperature for extended periods of time. Second, they are often padded or otherwise covered to protect the skin.
While immediate cryotherapy is important, so is continued treatment until the injury is resolved. Cryotherapy through Chill can help you decrease pain, reduce swelling, slow nerve conduction, limit cell death, and decrease blood flow. Combined, all of these effects can do two things. First, they can help you feel better. Second, they can help boost healing and speed your recovery.
One of the benefits of Chill cryotherapy over local ice application or even the use of a phase change material is the slowing of blood flow. Research reveals that there is a relationship between skeletal muscle activity and blood flow. When you slow the blood flow, you impact muscle metabolism. When you begin exercising, capillaries increase to enhance oxygen exchange. Therefore, during exercise there is increased blood flow to muscles, which can increase the likelihood of muscle soreness after exercise. By using cryotherapy after working out, you can quickly restrict blood flow, helping delay soreness and inflammation after an injury.
Cryotherapy for athletic recovery remains a critical part of treating injuries. By combining cryotherapy modalities, you can get both immediate and extended results from icing. Chill can help you achieve those results. Contact us today to get started!