Do you know why athletes use ice after sport?

After a football/basket/rugby match or any other sport you may think of, more and more athletes place themselves into the so-called “cold chambers”

Written Friday, by Emanuele Mortarotti

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Today we will find out the reasons why athletes use ice after sport, thanks to an article published on news-medical.net.

After a football/basket/rugby match or any other sport you may think of, more and more athletes place themselves into the so-called “cold chambers”, taking a real bath in a chamber releasing ice-cold air jets. The treatment is called cryotherapy. Despite the very low temperatures reached by these machines, the general idea is that putting yourself in such chambers at temperatures far below zero degrees reduces inflammation, reduces soreness and improves the recovery of the body after long physical exertions.

 

But what scientific foundation is there to explain all this? Why do many professional athletes decide to undergo this practice? Stephen Harridge, Professor of Physiology specializing in sports medicine, comments on the latest study concerning post-exercise muscle cooling as follows: “While post-exercise immersion in icy water (-10 to -15 degrees) has been popular for many years, cryotherapy has now become a frenzy, which affects the whole body. Cryotherapy is certainly an 'extreme' alternative, using extremely cold temperatures (from -85 to -135 degrees Celsius!)".

However, for both methods, the questions remain the same: are they effective? Is one better than the other, or are they just the same? Dr. Harridge explains: “The scientific evidence, as of today, does not show much enthusiasm or an extreme support towards their use. When checking inflammation markers - detectable by a simple blood tests - a very low (almost nil) therapeutic effect is detected. As a result, there is little evidence to support this custom, which is very much in vogue among athletes today. Given the growing popularity of both cold water immersion and cryotherapy, new studies and research follow one another and are necessary to determine objectively whether the body benefits from these practices. One of the challenges met by the studies is the ability to distinguish the 'placebo' effect from the real benefits provided by the cold".

 

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Emanuele Mortarotti
Author Emanuele Mortarotti

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