Popular Modalities for Exercise Recovery and Repair
by Dayna Elenis, LMT, AT
In any fitness regimen, rest and muscle recovery are just as important as strength training or cardio workouts. There are multiple well-known ways to repair muscles and help the body to recover after exercise, such as massage and stretching, but there are also many modalities that can help with recovery and repair.
One modality gaining popularity is the whole body cryo tank. Whole body cryotherapy involves standing in a single-person cryotherapy booth for about 2–3 minutes while liquid nitrogen vapors cool to temperatures between –238°F and –274°F. While getting nice and cold the body goes into a fight-or-flight mode. It starts producing white blood cells and adrenaline, and everything in the body contracts. Then when the short session is done, out of the cryo tank, the body stops the danger response. Everything relaxes and everything dilates, causing wonderful circulation all over the body.
The after-effects of adrenaline include increased energy and decreased pain. The increase in white blood cell production serves to defend the body against infections and disease. Other effects include decrease in delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), decrease in inflammation and promotion of muscle recovery and joint function.
Another modality that helps with recovery and heals on the cellular level is photobiomodulation (PBM), aka red light therapy or near infrared light. PBM is FDA approved to increase circulation, decrease pain, decrease inflammation and help with arthritis. PBM is proven to go into a cell, take out oxidative stress and help that cell to function normally again.
There is a class IV laser that uses PBM to specifically target an injured or bothersome area. Within about 5 minutes, there is pain relief and healing on the cellular level with the class IV Laser. There is also a full red light bed that uses PBM where one would lie in a bed that looks very similar to a tanning bed and enjoy the 360 degrees of red light for 20 minutes. PBM has been shown to increase the rate of tissue repair, improve muscle performance, decrease DOMS, enhance recovery and reduce pain and has no negative side effects.
Last, float tanks, also popularly known as sensory deprivation tanks, are another modality that promotes healing and recovery. A float tank usually has over 1,000 lb of Epsom salt, so when the user lies down in it, he or she floats freely. The water and the air temperature are the same as human body temperature, there is no noise and it is pitch black for a sensory deprivation experience. When in the float tank the body not only is getting a detox effect from the magnesium in the Epsom salt but also is going into a rest-and-digest mode. Athletes have found pain relief, muscle relaxation and mental clarity and focus when using a float tank.
Dayna Elenis is a licensed and certified athletic trainer and works in sports medicine. She is also one of the licensed massage therapists at The Giving Tree Collective in Oxford, MI. For more information call 248-572-4135 or visit TheGivingTreeCollective.com