Peaking at the perfect time for competition is a very calculated, strategic plan. The culmination of experience, time, training, effort, health, recovery, mental toughness all contribute… We do what we can to control all of these things, but there are some things in the physical body – no matter how hard you try – you cannot out of pure will, make happen.
Whole Body Cryotherapy is the extra – in the physical – that can give you the edge and help you peak physically and mentally for competition.
Tapering will look different depending on you and your plan. But no matter who you are, it is essential for your body to recover and be at your peak for competition. According to Mark Jenkins MD1, of RICE University; tapering improves your performance between 1-10%. He goes on to say that there are two main components to a taper, physical and psychological (you need both of these aspects as neither alone will have this improvement).
The effects of tapering are shown to be:
- VO2 max can improve 5-6% = better aerobic performance at competition
- Muscle glycogen increases = increase in endurance
- Better movement economy = less oxygen requirement per movement
- Better sleep = more energy
- Perceived effort is declined for movement at the same workload (getting in the zone) = very motivating and encouraging.
Strategies differ between coaches and sports. But one thing is a general agreement, intensity remains high while volume decreases. In a taper you will be training as hard or harder, but for less time. Having the fast effective technology of WBC to support you is essential for boosting performance and gaining the winning edge.
WBC increases the effectiveness of your taper by reducing acute and chronic pain, increasing endorphins, reducing recovery time, increasing quality sleep and supporting your immune system. It really makes you feel better and more capable.
WBC used immediately after training reduces not only primary inflammation, but secondary inflammation.2 Secondary inflammation is the residual pain you can have in the days after a training session (the lingering stiffness). This inflammation reduction caused by WBC is caused by the immediate vasoconstriction during the session, then increase in enzymes along with increased oxygenation of the blood when your body warms. By using cryo straight after training during your taper (or any time of training really) – your taper performance boost is more effective. There are also many benefits to your mental preparation. Using cryo is how faster and greater muscle recovery can be obtained to be in winning form.
Increasing endorphins is proven to increase happiness, energy and critical thinking. We all know that when we are in a good, energetic mood we have more available mental space to make better decisions more aligned with our goals and take more productive actions to get to the goal. WBC gives you a boost of endorphins immediately after a session. People report being more energised, have less pain, being more motivated and able to continue their day more efficiently. Research shows that these affects are not only immediate but last 48 hours and more. With this mental boost before a competition, you can deliberately align your actions with less effort. This mental boost can assist you to think more positively and the awareness to cut off unhelpful thought patterns.
Another change WBC induces is better quality sleep. Quality sleep is important at any stage in your training plan, but at competition time it is essential to be at your peak. Major restorative functions happen during sleep; muscle growth, cortisol decrease, adenosine clearing, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep.4 Adenosine is the chemical byproduct of brain cell activity during awake time, it builds up during the day and causes us to feel sleepy. During sleep, the body has a chance to clear the adenosine and, as a result, we feel more awake and alert. Quality of sleep is essential for athletes who push their body to the limits.
Limits can be increased with improving quality of sleep with cryotherapy, therefore your ability to recover, be mentally effective and energised is also increased.
A healthy immune system is a priority during hard training and taper. Pushing the body to its physical limits can leave some openings for viruses and bacteria to infiltrate. Actually exposing your body to this extreme of WBC increases your immunity. Some people are sceptical of this claim, but this has actually been happening for decades in cold areas of Europe. One example in Siberia where kindergarten children go outside in temperatures up to -30o and pore buckets of freezing water on their heads and have snowball fights… All in their underwear! Now, I’m not suggesting this is what the cryo sauna is like, but the theory is the same. These children have been doing this for the past 23 years. The results were that there was “an immediately stronger resistance to illness.” And and that the children were “noticeably healthier.”5
A study by Harsswirth et al. of highly trained runners and the effectiveness of WBC vs. Far-Infrared found WBC is more effective than infra red saunas and passive recovery. It concluded that pain and tiredness were reduced and maximum voluntary contractions (muscle contraction strength) was restored with WBC 1hr post exercise. This improvement in strength alone will contribute greatly to peak performance. Another noteworthy aspect of the WBC in this study is that well-being was rated higher 24hrs after WBC – showing that the increase in endorphins and reduction of pain and tiredness.3 This has the ability to improve your mental state, therefore, further increase performance.
It is now common knowledge that cryotherapy, even in the form of an ice pack decreases inflammation and pain. Imagine this, but on the whole body in a more effective and efficient way – without the pain of an ice bath. Vasoconstriction and increased oxygenation are essential components in reducing this inflammation and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Pournot et al. concluded that “WBC (3min at -110deg) performed immediately after exercise enhanced muscular recovery by restricting the inflammatory process.”6
So looking at the goal of tapering – to revitalise the body, create a winning mental state while maintaining and integrating previous training to be at peak performance – it is clear that WBC can not only support the process but enhance your performance during the taper and at the event.
Book now to experience the boost in performance and competitive edge.
- Mark Jenkins, (2005), Pre-Race Taper. http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/taper.html. RICE University.
- Joao B. Ferreira-Junior,s et al. (2014), Could whole-body cryotherapy (below −100°C) improve muscle recovery from muscle damage?. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078193/. Frontiers in Physiology.
- Christophe Hausswirth, et al. (2011). Effects of Whole-Body Cryotherapy vs. Far-Infrared vs. Passive Modalities on Recovery from Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Highly-Trained Runners. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0027749. POLS one.National Institute of Sport, expertise, and performance.
- Division of Sleep Medicine, (2007). Why Do We Sleep, Anyway?. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/why-do-we-sleep. Harvey Medical School
- Tamara Savchenk, (2012). Likes Ducks to Water in the Snow – keeping kids healthy Siberian style. http://siberiantimes.com/healthandlifestyle/others/news/like-ducks-to-water-in-the-snow-keeping-kids-healthy-siberian-style/
- Pournot et al. (2011). Time-Course of Changes in Inflammatory Response after Whole-Body Cryotherapy Multi Exposures following Severe Exercise. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21829501. PLoS one.
Written by Elouise Bermingham, BA Science (Sports and Exercise), Minor Performance Enhancment and Coaching.