Tissue damage strategies aim to speed up recovery by restoring damaged tissue, particularly muscle. This damage is often found in highly strenuous activities such as rugby league and Australian Rules Football. Cryotherapy is one of the tissue damage strategies and involves the many forms of cool treatments, including ice pack, cold-water immersion and cryogenic chambers. Cryotherapy removes heat from the damaged tissue, decreases inflammation by causing vasoconstriction and decreases pain.
Ice packs placed directly over an injury speed up recovery and should be used over 24-48hrs for soft tissue injuries. The application of ice slows down metabolism by lowering the local temperature. This decreases the demand for oxygen and decreases waste products. The decrease in inflammation also reduces secondary damage caused by the inflammation.
Cold-water immersion, such as an ice-bath, aims to reduce fluid build up in the body caused by tissue damaged in exercise. It involves the athlete being submersed in water that is 4-12oC for 3-5 min at a time with a short rest period out of the water before re-submersion often 4-5 times. Athletes report less pain after short periods of cold-water immersion, but repeated use can impair performance.
Cryogenic chambers are cooled to -110oC and athletes enter them for a short time (<3min). The aim is to reduce body temperature in order to release endorphins, which relieve pain.
Another one of the tissue damage strategies is the use of compression garments and bandaging. This aims to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery.