By: Kyle Laws
For years, we have focused on the recovery benefits of whole body cryotherapy (WBC). In an earlier blog, we even talked about one of the world’s greatest athletes – LeBron James. He uses whole body cryotherapy to recover after his games.
We reported that whole body cryotherapy “speeds up injury recovery, relieves pain and soreness, reduces lactic acid, helps inflammation, decreases spasms, releases endorphins and improves range of motion (since it loosens muscles that were tight or sore, which is a common issue for NBA players as they go through a rigorous 82-game season).”
But I recently came across an article which suggests that whole body cryotherapy may also have the potential to enhance athletic preparation for competition. This peaked my interest so I figured I would share the source of the article and I was happy to discover the source was credible. The article was published recently in August 2019 by Frontiers in Physiology.
Here is what the article concluded:
“Whole-body cryotherapy has generally been used within a recovery setting after competition or strenuous training for athletes, and in clinical settings for the general population. However, the acute hormonal, anti-inflammatory, perceptual and psychological responses yielded by a single, or repeated, bouts of WBC indicate that this practice could enhance an athlete’s competition readiness when used alongside traditional elements of active warm-ups in the hours before competition in addition to aiding recovery in the hours after.”
Some examples of physiological changes caused by WBC which may enable athletes to be in a greater state of readiness for competition?
Higher testosterone levels play a role in providing strength for athletic performance. “Salivary testosterone levels in elite female athletes have been associated with an individual’s natural desire to compete and motivation in training and readiness for competition . . . WBC exposure has the potential to elicit acute exercise-like effects in hormone concentrations following exposure, which could partly explain the benefits of this intervention.”
In men, a single bout of WBC “undertaken within 20 min of repeated sprint exercise elevated free testosterone levels by 28% for 24 h peaking at 2 h post-cryotherapy compared with a control group .” Similarly, “serum testosterone in elite male tennis players increased by 13% over a 2-week period of twice daily WBC exposure .”
There are other potential benefits reported such as a possible reduction in cortisol and greater psychological well being prior to competition.
More studies need to be done but these findings are promising. What we do know is that whole body cryotherapy has the potential to be a game changer especially when it comes to competitive sports. You are likely to gain an advantage if you utilize WBC as a way to prepare for competition.
All this should be good news to our clients. Cold therapy is a credible way to address many of the issues we have and it helps if we educate ourselves so that we can take advantage of these modalities. All this allows us to create a better version of ourselves.