When you suffer a sports injury, whether it’s because you overexerted, overtrained, took a wrong step or a fall, you don’t want to be relegated to the sidelines of life for an extended time period. Today, you have access to a21st century solution for recovering and healing from your injury. It combines cold (cryo) therapy with intermittent (also called pneumatic) compression in an ergonomic design. This system is used by amateur sports enthusiasts as well as professional athletes and people with physically demanding jobs to help them get back to it faster. Here are five key explanations for why cold compression therapy speeds your recovery from whatever sports injury you may have:
1. Minimize swelling (edema)
Edema, or swelling, is a common side effect of all types of soft tissue injuries. When your tissues are traumatized by an injury or by surgery that may be required to repair, for example, your torn rotator cuff or ACL, your body sends in blood and other bodily fluids to help in the healing process. This causes swelling which can slow down recovery.
Cryotherapy has long been used to reduce swelling because it has a powerful local vasoconstriction effect. Swelling is also reduced with cold therapy, because it limits what’s known as secondary hypoxic injury and this reduces tissue debris and the consequent swelling. Less swelling leads to faster recovery of damaged tissues.
Intermittent compression also has a positive impact on swelling reduction and hence tissue repair by enhancing lymphatic flow recovery, which leads to normal tissue functions being restored more quickly. Combined cold compression therapy offers the best way to reduce swelling, as fast as possible.
2. Lessen pain
Cold compression therapy is also widely used to reduce pain following a sports injury. When you were younger, you probably recall being told to immediately put ice on your injury. Why does this work? Researchers have proven that cold treatment provides an analgesic (numbing) effect by lessening pain mediator production and slowing nerve pain signals. Less pain means you get on with your physical therapy sooner and recover faster.
3. Increase lymphatic drainage
Healing is enhanced by restoring normal lymphatic flow so tissues repair faster. A wrap designed for your injury area – whether it’s the knee, shoulder or ankle - that provides cold compression therapy gets you back faster.
4. Stimulate tissue healing
Cold compression therapy provides enhanced tissue healing. This is because soft tissue that’s damaged from your sports injury acquires improved blood flow and reduced blood vein pressure meaning your tissues repair more quickly.
5. Reduce pain medication use
Following a sports injury, your physician may prescribe a pain control medication such as Vicodin. These types of meds can make you feel tired and disengaged, meaning you can’t get back in your routine while taking the pain medication. More studies are finding that when people who suffer a sports injury use a combined cold and compression therapy system, they can discontinue use of all pain medications faster; some patients can even recover with zero use of pain medication.
Turn to the system that professional athletes use to get back to their job – playing sports – faster. What questions do you have about cold and compression therapy systems?