Traditional ice baths have been used for many years to cut footballers’ recovery time from strains and injuries. They help players quickly return to match-fitness and get back on the pitch – essential in busy fixture periods such as the Christmas holidays

Ice baths, however, are notoriously unpopular. Players have the shock of being submerged in ice cold water and often have to travel to use them.

Not surprising, therefore, that whole body cryotherapy – a more comfortable and convenient recovery treatment – is gaining ground.

It involves players entering nitrogen-cooled chambers where cold temperatures trigger their bodies’ physiological reflexes and defence reactions. Players prefer it.

Feedback from the field

West Ham-cryotherapy

West Ham Football Club

Tom Taylor, West Ham United’s first team fitness coach says: “Following a match we use the chamber for all recovering players throughout the day.

“Typically, the players use it, complete their active recovery work, and use it once more to finish their session.

“Often they will use it post-training throughout the week, depending on the session itself and the proximity of our next fixture.

He adds: “The most common remark we hear from the players is that it helps them to feel noticeably ‘better’ the following day.”

Benefits of Cryotherapy

Reported benefits include reduced rheumatic muscle and joint pain, and less inflammation. But players have also reported feelings of greater well-being, improved sleep and higher energy levels.

Other benefits include:

  • Users are not submerged in ice cold water
  • Instead they can move about in a dry chamber
  • Cryotherapy is more efficient. It takes less than a third of the time of ice baths and 2 people can be in a cryotherapy chamber at any one time
  • Players don’t always need to travel to get cryotherapy. Chambers can be mobile, meaning they can be set up as and when they are needed.

In addition, unlike ice baths, cryotherapy also provides a full regenerative physiological procedure. It can induce beneficial reactions in the blood to speed up recovery after intense exercise.

Some football clubs say cryotherapy has increased their team’s recovery rates allowing players to return to training earlier. At elite sport level, extra training at higher intensity can make a significant difference to performance.

The procedure

  • Users firstly spend one minute in the ‘pre-chamber’ which has a temperature of -60C
  • Then they enter the main chamber where they spend 2 minutes being exposed to temperatures of -135C in short bursts
  • A robust air monitoring kit and onsite expert operator, who is fully trained in cryogenic gas handling, ensure user safety at all times

Mobile cryotherapy chambers

cryotherapy-chamber-being-pulled

Mobile cryotherapy chambers

BOC has 2 mobile chambers on the road which can be taken to any training ground, sports centre or stadium in the UK. They are used by all types of sportspeople, from individuals to whole squads, and are in high demand around times of major international sporting competitions.

They’re regularly used by football players at:

  • Arsenal
  • Crystal Palace
  • Sunderland
  • West Bromwich Albion
  • Aston Villa
  • Brentford
  • Charlton Athletic
  • Ipswich Town
  • Norwich City

Permanent cryotherapy chambers

Watford Static Chamber

Watford Static Chamber

Meanwhile permanent chambers have been installed at the following premiership clubs:

  • AFC Bournemouth
  • Burnley
  • Everton
  • Watford
  • West Ham United

They use BOC’s liquid nitrogen and were built and installed by BOC partners.

Michael Toole
Cryo Products and Services Manager