Most people know that applying traditional RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) therapy after an injury helps reduce pain and swelling, but do you know why? Understanding the science behind it can help you understand why a cold therapy machine works even better to help you recover quickly from an injury.
Why Cold Therapy Promotes Healing
Therapeutic cold has long been known to help reduce the pain and swelling associated with an injury. The three primary mechanisms that contribute to this are the:
Numbing of nerve endings
Cold reduces the sensitivity of nerve endings, which slows down the communication between your body and your brain, causing you to feel less pain in the injured area.
Slowing of cellular metabolism
Therapeutic cold also reduces the activity of cells, which means that the cycle of cell death is slowed down. This reduction in the metabolic rate of damaged cells helps more of the tissues in your muscles, tendons, and ligaments survive the injury, reducing the amount of repair required.
Promotion of the hunting response
When your body is exposed to cold, one of the natural reactions is the hunting response, which is the alternating constriction and dilation of the blood vessels. In the context of injury recovery, the hunting response helps reduce cellular metabolism during vasoconstriction and increases delivery of freshly oxygenated blood and nutrients during vasodilation.
Why Compression Enhances Injury Recovery
Applying pressure to an injury helps speed up healing in a few important ways:
Reduction of swelling
External pressure on damaged tissues helps prevent and reduce swelling. The traditional use of static compression bandages serves this purpose, but the active compression provided by a cold therapy machine provides even more benefits.
Prevention of edema
Edema, or the build-up of excess fluid, can slow down the recovery process. Active compression helps prevent edema by applying pressure to the area and actively removing any fluid that does appear.
Promotion of fluid circulation
During the healing process, damaged tissues need a lot of oxygen and nutrients to repair themselves. Active compression effectively pumps lymph fluid, cellular debris, and other unwanted fluids away from injury, while simultaneously supplying fresh blood and nutrients.
Why a Cold Therapy Machine Accelerates Healing
The therapeutic cold and active compression supplied by a cold therapy machine work together to help you recover from injuries even faster than ice packs or static compression alone.
Because cold therapy machines constantly circulate cold water through an ice reservoir, the temperature remains consistent throughout the therapy session. Adding active compression allows therapeutic cold to penetrate deeper and last longer. This means that all of the benefits described above are enhanced, contributing to faster tissue repair and an accelerated injury recovery for you.
Game Ready offers patented wraps for virtually any type of injury. Whether you need a boot that fully encloses an ankle sprain, a lumbar wrap to recover from a back injury, or an articulated knee wrap so you can use a CPM machine while cooling the injury at the same time, Game Ready has a cold therapy machine with active compression and the right wrap for you. Find a clinic near you to get started today.