Soft tissue injuries are common to all sports, and for decades the standard treatment has remained the same, represented by the acronym PRICE:
- Protect from further injury
- Rest from the activity that caused the injury
- Ice the injured area to reduce pain and inflammation
- Compress using a wrap or bandage to reduce inflammation and provide support
- Elevate to discourage swelling encourage flow of blood and fluids away from the injured tissue
In the past, icing entailed applying ice packs or frozen peas, or submerging an injured body part in ice water. However, thanks to technological advances, treating an injury with cryotherapy has become more effective and less uncomfortable than traditional methods.
Cryotherapy for Athletic Injuries
Athletic injuries can run the gamut from overall post-workout muscle soreness to an acute injury of an isolated body part. In either case, cryotherapy is a quick, painless and non-invasive treatment that reduces pain and inflammation and promotes healing.
Physical therapists often incorporate cryotherapy as part of post-injury and post-surgery rehabilitation protocols.
Cryotherapy affects an injured body part in a number of ways:
- reduces blood flow to the injured area, reducing swelling
- works as a numbing agent to reduce pain
- calms muscle spasms
- slows tissue metabolism to allow for healing
The Modern Way to Ice Athletic Injuries
Thanks to technology, old-school methods of icing athletic injuries are becoming a thing of the past. Sure, a bag of peas or a plastic storage bag of ice cubes will work in a pinch, but their effect is superficial and short-lived. And lets face it, a long soak in a bathtub filled with ice water does not sound very appealing.
Modern cryotherapy utilizes liquid nitrogen gas to rapidly drop your skin temperature to sub-freezing, causing a rapid constriction of blood vessels that instantly stops swelling and numbs pain. Blood is shunted to the viscera, where it picks up oxygen and nutrients. As the injured area warms, enhanced blood returns, bringing with it micronutrients and oxygen to promote healing.
Whole Body or Local Application Cryotherapy?
For general overall muscle soreness and fatigue, whole body cryotherapy (WBC) is recommended. Your entire body, except for your head and neck, is enclosed in a cryochamber, sometimes called a cryosauna, and subjected to sub-freezing temperatures for about three minutes. Gloves and socks protect your digits from frostbite, and men wear briefs to protect reproductive body parts.
For specific localized injuries, local application cryotherapy is suggested. In this treatment, a special wand-like device is used to direct a stream of nitrogen gas to the affected body part. Superficial skin temperatures drop rapidly, and the procedure is completed in just a few minutes.
Cryotherapy for Sports Injuries in NYC
If you are lucky enough to live in NYC, cryotherapy relief is just around the corner in trendy SoHo at Advanced Cryo NYC. Whether you opt for whole body or local application cryotherapy, our skilled clinicians are at your service. For an extra beauty boost, ask about CryoFacial, and be sure to check out our unique menu of other treatments and therapies, all designed to keep you looking and feeling healthy, young and beautiful.