Is cryotherapy or ice a regular part of your training regimen?
Recent studies are beginning to suggest that the traditional ice treatments may be hindering your recovery and putting your body more at risk for further injuries.
Cheng et al. (2017) found a direct correlation with the slowing of muscle recovery and fatigue resistance in the use of ice versus an increase in the speed of the factors with the use of heat.
Reports from as far back as 2001 (Int J Sports Med) have found reductions in reflex and motor function after an ice treatment which increases risk for injury following treatment.
The best level of study, a meta-analysis by Leeder et al. (2017) concludes that there may be several benefits to cold water immersion or cryotherapy such as reductions in soreness and small increases in power recovery, but see a reduction in cytokines as well. Cytokines are an essential protein released during high-intensity exercise to stimulate skeletal muscle growth. It also important to note that none of the studies in the meta-analysis discussed the other modality options such as warm water immersion or thermotherapy.
Studies continue to provide insight and debate the efficacy of cold water or ice therapy in the use of recovery and muscle repair. At Splynt, we have created a simple infographic below to summarize a few important points. Try switching heat for ice in your training sessions and let us know what you see!