Cryotherapy treatment under review by academics, not athletes

Questions still remain about the treatments effectiveness

A patient entering a cryotherapy chamber. Photo: Rudolfsimon via google
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Correction March 12, 2019: A previous version of this story stated that Vancouver Cryotherapy was a medical clinic. It does not fall under that classification.

Reported by Missy Johnson

Despite recent criticisms around the use of cryotherapy to treat injuries calling the treatment pseudo-science, some athletes, coaches and clinics stand by their various cures.

Dr. Marc Rizzardo, Langara Falcons’ soccer coach and physiotherapist told The Voice almost every athlete has used cold therapy as part of their injury rehabilitation method.

“In terms of recovery right now it’s probably one of the better things,” said Rizzardo. “At the Olympics, we have those ice baths for the athletes, so they are definitely using those.”

Under fire

A recent report by sports journalist Christie Aschwanden claims the age-old medical treatment is largely based on bogus science.  Her book, Good To Go, claims freezing temperatures can actually hamper recovery time by stopping the inflammation needed help muscles grow stronger.

The Harvard Catalyst defines cryotherapy generally as: “a form of therapy consisting in the local or general use of cold.”

Current treatment varies from ice baths, to freezing aerosol sprays and whole-body cryotherapy – where a patient enters a chamber with temperatures below -100 Celsius for several minutes.

A Journal of Emergency Medicine analysis from 2008 reviewed multiple studies on cold therapy and found insufficient evidence to support cryotherapy’s positive effects on soft-tissue damage.

Clinics confident in their practise

Jaipaul Dhaliwal, owner of Vancouver Cryotherapy, a clinic using these chambers, said the practice puts an athlete’s body into survival mode.

“All the blood comes rushing to your core and when that happens, it takes a lot of any peripheral inflammation with it,” he said.

Dhaliwal cited the endorsement of professional sports teams and several European states.

In Europe, you can get a prescription for it. It’s covered by healthcare,” he said. “Even the Canucks, they had the most advanced ice baths out there.”

Langara athletes use it too

Langara Falcons’ basketball player, Tyler Anderson, said ice is what is most recommended.

“Normally right after the injury we get a cold pack or ice and we ice it to prevent the swelling,” he said.

Anderson hasn’t personally used whole-body cryotherapy yet but said, “I’ve heard from people who have used them and they said it really helped.”

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