Cryotherapy & Athletic Performance
One of the more surprising factors whole-body cryotherapy presents is improved performance. In a study focused on speed and power, athletes who took part in whole-body cryotherapy at 1 hour, and 24 hours post training had an average of 20% boost to power and speed for a period of up to two days. This enhanced performance comes as a result of stunting the inflammatory process, while increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines, and decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines.
These results were reiterated in a study focusing on high ranking tennis players. Players who underwent two sessions per day for 5 days improved their stroke effectiveness by 4% more than players who did not undergo cryotherapy. These subjects also experienced a significant decrease in muscle damaging inflammation.
Studies have shown that a whole-body cryotherapy session done one hour after squat jumps and leg curls resulted in a variety of improved performance measures for a period of up to 72 hours. Improved performance measures include power at beginning of squat jump, as well as squat jump work up. Pain measures also showed improvements at time of rest, as well as the next training session.
Furthermore, cold exposure has been shown to increase the number of mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells) in muscle tissue. This increased saturation of mitochondria has been shown to improve our ability to perform aerobic exercise, and pose greater resistance to fatigue.
It is important to remember that cold exposure should take place no sooner than a half-hour post exercise. Research shows a stunted anabolic response when cold therapies are introduced immediately after training. The timing of whole-body cryotherapy sessions is paramount to inducing a beneficial response.