What Is Cold Therapy and Is it Good for Me?

What Is Cold Therapy and Is it Good for Me?

What is cold therapy and what are its benefits? We've done a deep dive on cold therapy to understand what it is, how it works and whether it's good for you

The underlying science behind cold therapy involves exposing the body, or a body part, to extremely cold temperatures, which may help relieve pain. This happens because the cold causes blood vessels to constrict, which reduces blood flow. This reduction in blood flow could theoretically reduce inflammation and pain around the site of an injury or strain.

In this guide, we cover some common cold therapy options, the various pain-relief benefits of cold therapy to help you determine whether cold therapy is right for you.

Different Types of Cold Therapy
There are many forms of cold therapy. Below are a few of the more common types of cold therapy available.

  • • Cold Compress

A cold compress, or an ice pack, is an easy way to do cold therapy at home.
If you don’t have an ice pack, you can also use a bag of frozen peas or vegetables.

  • • Cold Water Immersion

Cold water therapy includes different forms of cold-water immersion—cold plunges in a pool or lake, ice baths, or cold showers.

  • • Localized Ice Massage

An ice massage involves massaging an ice cube (or using a cryocup) that is wrapped in a cloth or is covered directly on the site of pain.

The skin will feel extremely cold and then numb. Do not apply ice directly to the skin and do not continue an ice massage once you’ve reached a point of numbness.

The Benefits of Cold Therapy
Cold therapy has been gaining popularity thanks to its various health benefits, particularly for muscle pain relief.

If you have sore muscles, a muscle sprain, or lower back pain, you might find cold therapy helpful.

Below are three ways that cryotherapy can help you better manage your muscle injuries or pain.

  • • Decreases Inflammation and Swelling

Cold exposure therapy like cryotherapy and ice application aims to reduce inflammation and swelling due to muscular injuries by constricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow. This will numb the injured area, reducing pain

  • • Decreases Sensitivity to Pain

One of the major benefits of cold therapy is its role in pain management. Data from one study involving the cold application icing of the ankles of adult male sports players, suggests that cold therapy increases one’s pain threshold and pain tolerance by reducing nerve conduction velocity (NCV). This is the speed at which electrical impulse move through a nerve.

In other words, applying ice to an injury reduces the speed of nerve activity, and potentially the speed of pain signals firing in the body. This might be why our pain perception is lowered during cold therapy.

  • • Relieves Sore Muscles

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is extreme muscle soreness experienced in the hours, or even days, after an intense workout. DOMS can make it too painful to move the affected muscle, reducing your range of motion.

A meta-analysis of 32 randomized controlled trials found that using cold therapy application within one hour after exercising, can reduce the degree of pain caused by delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) within 24 hours.

This content is only for general awareness and not a replacement for medical advice.
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