Any basketball player or athlete that’s experienced a sports injury in their lifetime should be quite familiar with the famous RICE protocol, or with cold compression therapy. But how exactly does cold compression therapy work, and what makes it so effective and beneficial for recovery?
Let’s get into it.
Cold compression therapy can be used as an effective solution for a range of muscle, tendon and ligament injuries. It can even be used to reduce bruising, mitigate muscle spasms, soothe nerve endings.
The combination of very cold temperatures and compression can help tremendously in bringing down swelling/ inflammation and pain following an injury. This is because the cold temperatures work to temporarily narrow the blood vessels, thus restricting the flow of blood to the injured site, while the compression works to reduce the swelling by directing excess fluids away from the area and promoting the elimination of cellular and tissue waste by means of lymphatic drainage.
This also stimulates the production of fresh blood, as well as the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged tissues - all helping to speed up the process of recovery while also working to prevent a secondary injury due to swelling. Cold compression therapy also helps to mitigate pain and discomfort in the affected area, so the injured athlete can find some relief while they’re helping themselves to heal.
Cold compression therapy can be used for a range of muscle, tendon and ligament injuries, and can even be used to reduce bruising, mitigate muscle spasms, soothe nerve endings. However, its effectiveness is highly dependent on how soon after the injury it is put to use. The sooner that cold compression therapy is applied to the affected site following injury, the better that the flow of blood can be controlled - resulting in quicker recovery success and pain reduction.
Cold compression can be achieved through securing elastic bandaging or wraps around the injured area in conjunction with the application of crushed ice or frozen gel packs. Alternatively, cold compression therapy systems created just for the job, such as Game Changers Sports Recovery’s Game Ready Therapy Machine, serve as an excellent option for any modern athlete to use at home or anywhere.
It’s cool, it’s tight - literally! Practiced for years by both professional and non-professional athletes and trainers, cold compression therapy remains an effective and reliable method of treatment for a range of injuries and pain problems.
But perhaps the most important thing to remember is, the key is always to act fast with it.