Whilst several modalities have been adopted to promote optimum sports recovery, the beneficial effects of Whole-Body Cryotherapy (WBC) remain equivocal. Physiological and performance effects of WBC treatment covering anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular and autonomic changes as well as muscle damage marker reductions are well documented. However, evidence concerning the implications of manipulating WBC protocol factors are relatively scant and were the subject of this review. We attempted to address the question as to what is considered the optimum WBC protocol for post exercise recovery. Notable factors were identified as pertinent to the potential efficacy of WBC treatment. Firstly, treatment timing appears to influence WBC effectiveness, probably due to the time course of the inflammatory response post exercise. This can have direct applications for sports practice since many athletes lack immediate access to cryogenic chambers. It is probable that applying WBC within 60 minutes is desirable. Secondly, inter-individual factors such as body fat, age and sex affect WBC response, with young and lean males benefiting apparently more from the treatment. Furthermore, adjustments in WBC temperature, duration and frequency are to be factored in, with the latter potentially being particularly significant. The precise prescription of WBC treatment for optimising recovery could be affected accordingly. Understanding how different WBC protocols can ameliorate the effects of muscle damage can aid practitioners in the application of WBC strategies to facilitate recovery needs and athletic performance. Future studies should consider randomised controlled trials addressing the impact of protocol factors in isolation on physiological and performance parameters.
- Whole Body Cryotherapy/Cryostimulation,
- Muscle damage