Treatment of Ice | 20th July 2022 | Virtual Wire
In sports, recovery is as important as training. If an athlete doesn’t take proper rest, sleep and recuperation they risk exposing themselves to injuries.
Being injured is among the last thing an athlete needs as one of the key factors for being a successful athlete is consistency. Injuries may also leave a lasting impact sometimes. We have seen so many athletes get injured and come back playing at the top level yet they could never get to the level they were at or they could have been after some experience and time. It’s sad to see this for both players and fans. Hence it's absolutely vital that they are able to get the proper recovery they need. One of the most popular and effective methods of recovery is cryotherapy. It could be anything from applying an icepack to cylinders modified with advanced technology.
It's common knowledge that icepacks are a brilliant remedy for inflammations, fractures and sprains. But cryotherapy is so much more than just that. It helps reduce pain from nerve injuries, reduce migration, improve and stabilize mood, treat skin conditions, prevent tumours in early stages & reduce chances of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Yet nothing comes with its own drawbacks. One of the biggest mistakes one might do is undergoing treatment for too long. The treatment is supposed to be short but frequent. Nobody should apply an icepack in the same area for more than 20 minutes. In the case of whole-body cryotherapy, not more than 4 minutes. Another note to keep in mind is not everyone can take this treatment. A few are pregnant women, those suffering from hypertension, cardiac diseases, individuals with pacemakers, Raynaud’s Syndrome, bleeding disorders, severe anaemia, etc. This is why it’s extremely important not to self-diagnose and always undergo cryotherapy after receiving Doctor’s instructions. As we see from pro athletes they are always with a professional in the medical field and never left unsupervised.
The 4 main modes of application are ice packs, ice spray, ice massage and immersion. The focus here is on the latter two as the first two are fairly simple and commonly known. Ice massage as the name suggests is by taking ice covering with any cloth or common material and massaging the desired area in circular motions. It is very important to not let the ice come in direct contact with your skin, it should always be indirect contact through a thin layer. Direct contact with skin can lead to frostbite. To get the desired effects the substances used are skyrockets Argon gas, Liquid Nitrogen & Liquid Nitrogen Oxide.
Nowadays sports are extremely intense. This just makes athletes that much more prone to injury. A common injury that occurs without any contact is to the hamstring. Often athletes need to reach out and stretch their body, this is when hamstring injury is most prevalent. Without proper warmup and recovery, the risk of it happening sky rockets. We can’t ignore the risk of stress injuries either as they too are common. Athletes need to push their bodies to the limits which put a lot of strain on their bodies. Due to this professional athletes often subject themselves to ice baths or specially designed medical cylinders for a whole-body immersion. For the latter athletes enter the cylinder in wool undergarments and sometimes gloves. This treatment lasts 2-3 minutes at most. A scientific explanation of why cryotherapy is so effective is the cold results in constriction of blood vessels, which causes waste products in the body to be removed. Waste products such as lactic acids are pushed out from the tissues and muscles. It also allows fresh oxygenated blood into the muscles. This is why players feel energized and refreshed after cryotherapy.
There’s been a great demand for cryotherapy and also development in the field. Sports clubs and trainers have recognized the need for it and actively use it. Yes, it is extremely useful and works wonders in recovery, but we shouldn’t forget its drawbacks and harm as well. Supervision is absolutely necessary or one might risk getting permanent damage if not done right. Although there’s been a lot of focus on cryotherapy and sports let’s not forget it’s not just limited to athletes. It's used often in surgery and to treat skin afflictions. It’s a flexible method of treatment to which many are thankful.