Anyone who has begun a new exercise program or returned to training after a hiatus is familiar with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that kicks in 24 to 48 hours after exercise, characterized by pain, swelling, and loss of function. In fact, for many, the inevitable pain and discomfort of DOMS is a deterrent to getting back in shape.
However, there is increasing evidence that exposing your body to cryotherapy immediately after exercise may reduce DOMS and promote healing of muscle damage from exercise.
Factors Affecting DOMS
During the eccentric (muscle lengthening) phase of exercise, where the weight is lowered in the direction of gravity, damage to muscle tissue occurs. This in turn induces an inflammatory response similar to that of injury, where swelling takes place and pain is pervasive.
In response to cellular damage, a number of processes occur within muscle tissue:
- Release of cytokines and serum inflammatory markers
- Increases in creatine kinase (CK)
- Immunoglobulin responses similar to those in acute injury
- Increase in fluid volume within the muscular space
All of these responses are suspected to cause or contribute to DOMS.
How Cryotherapy Mitigates DOMS
Cryotherapy has long been the go-to treatment for soft tissue injury, represented by the “I” the RICE acronym (rest, ice, compression and elevation) that is a standard first-aid treatment for acute and chronic injury. While its mechanisms are still not fully understood, we do know that it is effective in reducing pain and inflammation.
In a 2015 study by Selkow et al, DOMS was induced in participants through eccentric calf raise exercises. After exercise, the experimental group was given cryotherapy, while the control group was either given sham therapy or no treatment at all. Pain levels for all participants were highest at 48 hours, but those who received cryotherapy reported significantly less pain than the control group.
Making Cryotherapy a Part of Your Fitness Training Program
Whether you are an athlete returning to sport after the off-season or just a regular person beginning a new exercise program, you can reduce the pain of DOMS with cryotherapy. However, if soaking in a tub of ice water seems almost less appealing than enduring post-exercise pain, there is a better solution.
Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is an innovative approach to treating DOMS using nitrogen gas, delivered over a three-minute session in a cryochamber. The technology of WBC enables your superficial soft tissue to cool rapidly to sub-freezing temperatures, shrinking capillaries and reducing pain and inflammation. During WBC, cold temperatures decrease cellular metabolism and reduce the need for oxygen in muscle cells, minimizing secondary cell death from hypoxia.
While the exact mechanisms of WBC’s effect within muscle cells are not fully understood, it has been affirmed that cryotherapy after exercise reduces pain and swelling from DOMS, helping you recover more quickly from exercise, with less discomfort.
WBC in NYC
If you live and work out in the Big Apple, whole body cryotherapy is just around the corner at InVita Cryo NYC in trendy historic SoHo. Make an appointment after your workout, and see what a WBC session can do for you. While visiting InVita Cryo NYC, ask about our unique menu of treatments and therapies, all geared to keeping you looking and feeling young, healthy and beautiful.