The cold, when used in the right way, is an exceptionally useful tool for recovery because it helps to reduce swelling, clear lactate and relieve aches and pains. It can lessen or eliminate DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and speed up recovery times in order to get you back to training at 100% much quicker than usual.
The following methods are all excellent ways to use the cold as an important part of your recovery process.
Ice baths work by constricting blood vessels and decreasing metabolic activity, this in turn breaks down swelling and tissue breakdown. They don’t suppress inflammation, but flush out metabolites that build up in your muscles during exercise.
Why should you use them?
You have probably used an ice pack before in order to help heal a previous injury or swelling. But cold water immersion generally produces a greater and longer lasting change in deep tissues and is a more efficient means of cooling larger muscle groups and surface areas simultaneously.
How long should you stay in?
Initially, taking ice baths can be a pretty daunting experience, so build up gradually. Aim for a minute or two the first time you try it and build this up to around 6 minutes. Once you feel acclimatised to this temperature and duration, bring it up to between 8 – 12 minutes.
FOCUSED COLD COMPRESSION
Compression garments add external pressure. Blood can easily pool in the extremities, especially in the lower limbs due to gravity, so the extra compression helps to squeeze the blood out of the muscles and back to the lungs and heart. This allows fresh oxygenated blood to replace it.
When compression is combined with focused ice (Cryotherapy) and cold, then recovery times can be drastically improved even more.
So what are the advantages of focused cold compression garments from Freeze Sleeve?
Relief and Recovery
Provides relief and recovery for aching muscles and joints.
360 degrees of even compression coverage, and also allows full range of motion to the user.
The Freeze Sleeve provides the recommended 20 minutes of daily cold therapy treatment. It is also a recipient of the OTW Top Ten Sports Medicine Awards.
The compression design allows the Freeze Sleeve to be used comfortably on multiple areas of the arms and legs.
Allows the user to apply daily cold therapy compression treatment on the go whenever and wherever you are.
COLD WATER SWIMMING
This can be performed in the sea, a lake, river or even an outdoor pool. The advantage here is that your entire body is exposed to the cold water and you can simultaneously use the experience as training and an active recovery session.
Outside of recovery, exposure to cold water in this way will stimulate the release of endorphins, lower blood pressure and help to combat anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. Open water swimming is also a great way to build mental toughness and test your fitness in new ways. It will cause your body to release dopamine and I guarantee that you will feel good once you have completed the swim and are safe and dry on the shore once again!
This type of activity has also been featured many times at The CrossFit Games™, so as a Crossfitter, it is a valuable skill to work on. Think back to the sea swims, or the run swim run in Madison last year. Swimming is a fundamental physical skill, and one that you should work on if you intend on becoming a well rounded athlete.
Our blood vessels constrict in the cold and dilate in the heat. Alternating between hot and cold acts as a pump flushing blood through the muscles, promoting clearance. Ice baths have the added benefit of hydrostatic pressure, but they can be time consuming to prepare. If you want to add another great recovery method alongside the Freeze Sleeve into your routine, hot/cold showers are an excellent and convenient choice.
Optimising your recovery will allow you to maximise the effects of your training, enabling you to improve your fitness, strength, health and muscle growth.
When you combine focused compression with exposure to the cold, then you make this process much more efficient. This saves you time and decreases the amount of time it takes your body to recover. Time to take your training to the next level!
* The Freeze Sleeve is a patent pending product.