After an intense workout, your muscles will be completely exhausted and sore. So, you need to find a way to help your muscles recover quickly in readiness for the next training session. This is where cold therapy comes in handy. Also referred to as cryotherapy, cold therapy helps to reduce muscle pain, soreness, and inflammation.
It also speeds up your recovery so that you can continue to train without delay. But what exactly does cold therapy do to your muscles? This article discusses the effects of cryotherapy on your muscles.
What Is Cold Therapy?
In its most basic form, cold therapy involves pressing a packet of ice or frozen gel on an area that has sustained a soft-tissue injury. Today, most hospitals and clinics are now using cold therapy machines to replace ice and gel packs. Cold therapy can also be applied in several other ways, including whirlpools, ice baths, and coolant sprays. It is recommended to treat minor injuries such as runner’s knee, tendonitis, sprains, arthritis pain, lower back pain, and others.
Effects of Cold Therapy on Your Muscles
Apart from reducing pain and swelling, cold therapy also helps to improve the flexibility of your muscles. That’s why athletes are advised to have an ice bath or any other form of cold therapy after strenuous sporting activities. When you expose your muscles to cold temperatures, the blood vessels around them become narrow, reducing blood flow to the muscles. With reduced blood flow to the targeted muscles for a short period, cold therapy lessens inflammation, swelling, and nerve activity, reducing pain and soreness in the muscles and tendons around.
The good thing about cold therapy is that it can be localized through the use of coolants or ice packs instead of full-body ice baths. So, you can target specific muscles that need treatment. When you place a pack of ice on your skin, it absorbs heat from the targeted area through conduction to transfer thermal energy. This leads to immediate vasoconstriction with reflexive vasodilation and reduced local metabolism and enzymatic activity. Cold therapy also reduces muscle spindle fiber activity and decelerates the rate of nerve conduction.
Therefore, it is not advisable to use cold therapy before engaging in strenuous activities because it can lead to reduced myotatic reflex and force production. You are also likely to lack balance if you engage in physical activities immediately after cold therapy. For more information on cold therapy, get in touch with My Cold Therapy today.