Malachy P. McHugh, FACSM, Susan Y. Kwiecien.
Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, New York, NY.
Currently there is much controversary on the role of cryotherapy in exercise recovery and injury treatment. Traditionally, various forms of cryotherapy have been used in the treatment of soft tissue injuries, the management of exercise-induced muscle damage, and as a means of facilitating exercise recovery. By contrast, more recently, detrimental effects of cryotherapy have been demonstrated in some injury and recovery models, which has led to calls to discontinue cryotherapy practices. Research highlighting detrimental effects of cryotherapy has garnered a lot of media attention, while the research which provides the scientific basis for specific cryotherapy interventions has been overlooked. Much of the controversy can be resolved with a better understanding of the importance of (1) the treatment timing relative to the onset of injury (injury application) or cessation of exercise (recovery application), and (2) the treatment duration and frequency for the specific form of cryotherapy being applied.