Science and technology are at the forefront of athletic recovery and healing. Recovery labs are popping up around the country, offering athletes of all levels the opportunity to seek the ultimate level of recuperation.
These centers boast a myriad of technology in the hopes of reducing recovery time and optimizing return to the next athletic endeavor. Recovery labs have seen tremendous growth, especially in active cities and mountain towns. Despite the escalation of the centers, one must ask, do they help?
First up to investigate – Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC)
Local cryotherapy is the application of cold with the purpose of dropping tissue temperature to promote local vasoconstriction to control edema, as well as the reduction of pain and muscular spasm.
WBC has been advocated by some to use this modality with athletes to aide in muscle soreness recovery, with supporters stating it returns players more quickly to the field. However, no stringent scientific studies on whole body cryotherapy and their impact on return to play exist. Conversely, local cryotherapy (example, ice pack or cooling/compression knee sleeves) as a modality has a long history with scientific evidence to indicate the use of cryotherapy following injury to decrease pain and edema in the acute setting.
Of note, the FDA has not cleared or approved any WBC device/unit for medical treatment of any specific medical conditions.
“The FDA is also concerned that patients who opt for WBC treatment—especially in place of treatment options with established safety and effectiveness—may experience a lack of improvement or a worsening of their medical conditions.”