By: Robert Collier
The sports industry has become one of the most profitable industries in the world and athletes need to be in peak physical condition at all times in order to compete at a high level. One of the ways athletes are now looking to improve their fitness to gain an edge over the competition is whole-body cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy is a growing technique that many athletes and sports clubs are using to assist in their recovery process. The actual process includes stepping into a chamber (with heading sticking out) for about 1 ½ to 3 minutes and having the chamber fill with liquid nitrogen chilling the body to as low as -200 degrees Fahrenheit.
The reason why athletes are willing to expose themselves to such frigid temperatures is because the process is said to reduce inflammation and speed up muscle recovery. Dr. Jonas Kuehne spoke about the benefits of cryotherapy stating, “…not only pain improves but swelling goes down and functionality returns faster.”
The 2011 Welsh Rugby Union’s captain, Sam Warburton supported the claims made by Dr. Jonas Kuehne. He believes that since the club used whole-body cryotherapy they were able to stay healthier and train more than the other clubs which resulted in them being in better shape when it came time for 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The Dallas Mavericks have also given cryotherapy credit in keeping their aging roster healthy during their 2011 NBA Finals victory over the Miami Heat. The Mavericks’ victory in the 2011 Finals was a break through moment for cryotherapy in the US by having its benefits on full display.
There are many benefits to cryotherapy but there are also risks involved. One example is US Olympian Justin Gatlin got frostbite on his feet. He made the mistake of going into the chamber with wet socks and fortunately only suffered from blisters on his feet for a few days following the incident. The process is also not advised for people who have serious health problems such a heart or kidney issues, diabetes and can cause changes in blood pressure and allergic reaction to the cold.
Athletes are constantly looking to gain an edge in their sport. Whole-body cryotherapy offers tremendous benefits to athletes of any sport. One of the biggest struggles for athletes is the ability to stay healthy. If cryotherapy can continue to prove its benefits it could grow into of the most important and profitable ventures in sports as teams and athletes are always looking for the next best way to stay healthy and recover faster.