Professional sports is undoubtedly a lucrative career path, but the long-term physical health of countless athletes has long been an issue for those involved. The body is used as a tool for 99% of athletes, and after years of consistent use, injuries can plague a career or even end it. This is why invocative methods for curing damage to the body are often in the spotlight. And in recent years several techniques have gained a lot of attention such as ice baths and other techniques but no practice has risen in popularity like Cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy – the facts
Cryotherapy is when the body is exposed to incredibly cold temperatures, often for around 5-7 minutes. It’s been a favoured approach by athletes due to its rejuvenating benefits, backed with solid evidence.
With most trends, particularly on the internet, you will receive tons of advice from various sources. Regarding Cryotherapy, better known as ‘ice baths’ or ‘cold plunges,’ it’s unfortunate that most of the advice you’ll stumble on can be contradictory. However, a resounding fact agreed upon is that ice baths will assist your mentality, but the physical recovery benefits are also astounding.
It’s imperative, however, to use moderation to receive the true benefits of ice baths, as too much exposure can result in diminishing results.
“I personally like to ice baths post workout – usually after a hard run for about 15 minutes or longer, depending on how cold the bath is. Ice baths are nice right after a tough workout or soon after to recover your core temp. Usually, I will try to ice bathe right after the run if I can and then take a warm Epsom salt bath later in the evening if I’m feeling sore.” – Tristin Van Ord, an Endurance Athlete
Ice Baths – assisting the most physically demanding sports
Professional fighters, specifically in the world of MMA (mixed martial arts), have become the biggest advocates for Cryotherapy.
The damage taken during MMA fights and training sessions is unlike any sport on the planet, as it’s inarguable that professional fighters undoubtedly put their bodies on the line with the highest risk of injury. Ice baths heavily assist fighters by restricting the blood flow to the muscles, decreasing swelling, muscle damage, and soreness.
Most professional teams invest millions of dollars in the latest technology to get the most out of their players. The UFC performance institute takes full advantage of the newest technology to ensure their fighters can stay healthy and make it to their next fight injury free. The UFC is heading to Boston for UFC 292. Make sure to use BetMGM Massachusetts promos to take full advantage of maximizing your winnings if you are looking to get in on the action.
Countless UFC athletes have turned to ice bathing as a recovery method, and the science backs it up. When the skin, muscles, and core temperature is cooled, blood vessels are constricted, and this slowing/blocking of blood flow can decrease swelling and acute inflammation muscle damage.
Furthermore, Cryotherapy has been scientifically proven to help DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), lower CK (creatine kinase) – a stress marker to suggest muscle damage – and improve neuromuscular performance.
In particular, creatine kinase levels have been incredibly high post-fight, or even hard sparring sessions for fighters. With cold baths, ice plunges, or any variation of Cryotherapy, recovery is sped up, and CK levels will decrease.
In addition, when tested on a simulated MMA bout, Cryotherapy lowered cortisol (the stress hormone), perceived soreness, and fatigue.
Aside from Cryotherapy’s recovery benefits, many fighters utilize ice baths to build a strong mental game. During his rise to the top-10 rankings of the UFC heavyweight division, Tom Aspinall credited cold water therapy for keeping him calm in the octagon.
“It’s something I’ve been doing for the past year, but I feel the benefits massively,” – Tom Aspinall
He added: “If you can stay calm when you’re absolutely freezing, the chances are more likely that you will stay calm in other situations as well. I do it mainly for the mental aspect. I think it’s part of the reason I stay so calm, especially in my last fight. Obviously, it was a massive fight, and I was in the ice baths every day. I just try and use it to stay calm because immersing myself in freezing cold water is not easy, and neither is fighting in front of 20,000 people. So, if you can stay calm in one aspect, it helps you to stay calm in other aspects.”