Whole-Body Cryotherapy and Ice Baths
While both are remarkably uncomfortable, there is a difference between whole-body cryotherapy and a bathtub full of ice cubes. While an ice bath will constrict blood vessels, cryotherapy’s extreme temps (-200 degrees Fahrenheit and lower) actually shunt the blood from the limbs and toward vital organs. The theory is that, once you step out of the tank, the warmer, rebounding blood brings more nutrients back to extremities.
Cofield is hesitant to recommend either as a recovery modality. “It can help with pain, obviously,” she says, but studies go back and forth on whether cold-induced vasoconstriction is a good long-term practice. “Are you not getting waste byproducts out of the area?” she asks. “Are you impairing the normal functionality of the system?” Unless you’re in a competition that includes multiple events in a short period of time, you may be better off skipping the deep freeze.