How I Used Cold Therapy and PEMF to Adjust to Crossfit

About 2 months ago, I started doing CrossFit and, while I’ve always worked out regularly and ridden horses competitively, CrossFit has still been a huge adjustment. The workouts in CrossFit put my body under a different level of stress, and at 5:30 am nonetheless!
This new stimulus left my body in need of serious recovery. Although it wasn’t my first instinct to jump into a cold pool or shower, I learned about cold therapy and decided to add it to my established Pulsing routine.

How Does It Work?

Exposure to cold puts us under hormetic stress, encouraging the body’s natural responses that make us stronger when we’re exposed to environmental stressors. Sudden exposure to cold causes blood in the extremities to rush back to the center of the body, where the heart and lungs are. The newly oxygenated blood returns to the limbs, bringing additional oxygen and nutrients to muscles and surrounding tissue.
Cold therapy

Contraindications

Cold therapy isn’t for everyone, and there are some conditions and circumstances where you shouldn’t proceed with cold therapy.

  • Sensory disorders, including diabetes, that prevent individuals from feeling certain sensations
  • Stiff muscles or joints
  • Poor circulation or any condition that causes poor circulation
  • Cardiovascular or heart disease
  • Pregnancy

It’s also important to limit the time you spend doing cold therapy. Too long or too direct of exposure may result in skin, tissue, or nerve damage. Consult your physician if you have questions about whether cold therapy is right for you.

Types of Cold Therapy

There are many options when it comes to experiencing the benefits of cold therapy, so you don’t have to commit to the polar plunge right away. It’s best and safest to build up your exposure to cold temperatures gradually.
Cold therapy

Cold Showers

Showering in cold water between 50 and 59F is a great way to start incorporating cold therapy into your daily routine. By gradually introducing this into your daily routine a few minutes at a time, you can experience the health benefits of cold therapy immediately!

Ice Baths

Cold water immersion by soaking in a tub filled with cold water and ice is a common cold therapy method for athletes. Time ranges vary, from a few seconds to a maximum of 15 minutes. The key is to build up your tolerance gradually.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy chambers are a newer modality offered at wellness spas and stand-alone cryotherapy clinics. Three minutes in a cryotherapy chamber can cause a rapid reduction in tissue and core body temperature, as well as blood vessel constriction. Once you leave the chamber, your blood vessels dilate, allowing anti-inflammatory protein to flood areas that are injured or under stress.

Topical Cooling Agents

Topical products like IcyHot or BioFreeze help alleviate pain by causing the skin to feel cool and then warm. Applying these to areas of injury or soreness can be helpful.

NOTE: Don’t Pulse immediately after applying topicals to the body, as Pulsing may speed up the absorption of topicals into the body.

Cold Therapy + Pulsing

I’ve been utilizing pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) technology for several years for optimized wellness and enhanced natural recovery. My current Pulsing routine consists of 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes of Pulsing in the evenings with the Chair Pad, Cube, and Paddles in varying positions based on the needs and workout of the day. I generally start in the Chair Pad for 30 to 40 minutes, then use the cube on my lower back or abdomen.

When exposed to cold therapy like an ice bath or cold shower, the blood vessels constrict which decreases blood flow to your muscles which reduces inflammation and swelling. Nerve signaling to these areas will slow which can help reduce pain. After you emerge from the ice bath, the blood vessels dilate which increases circulation. The nutrient rich blood flow to the muscles may help remove metabolic waste that builds up during exercise.

Using a PEMF device stimulates the open-and-close mechanism of the cell which optimizes the body’s healing process. These two modalities should stack nicely since they both work to reduce inflammation, increase circulation and increase nutrient absorption.

What I Experienced

I added cold therapy to my routine starting with a cold showers and working my way up to some ice baths, first thing in the morning or post-workout. Because it’s winter and cold water from the tap is already fairly cold, I only added about 3 cups of ice.

Mental & Emotional Response

The first time I used an ice bath, I started with 7 minutes. Like with many challenges we face in life, time seemed to slow down, intensifying the experience and allowing me a long, cold, and reflective moment. To make it easier on myself, I started playing music to help take my mind off of the cold water.

After the experience, I noticed I was more awake, and I was ready to conquer the day, knowing that I had just accomplished something mentally and physically challenging. That strength carried over to other parts of my life, too. When I felt the temptation to give up, I found myself better equipped to push through, knowing I could withstand almost anything.

Physical Response

My inflammation and puffiness were reduced after the ice bath. I put on comfortable, warm clothes to help my body warm up. I walked more often on my treadmill under my desk, which in turn improved my productivity, made me more alert, and improved my digestion.
A week into the experiment, I strained the right side of my neck along my trapezius muscle. I utilized Pulsing, BioFreeze, and ice baths even more to help with my recovery.
I put the Cube under my neck, off-centered to the right side of my shoulder blades and Pulsed for 30 minutes twice a day in this position. I think the combination of these modalities sped up my recovery. I applied BioFreeze to the area after Pulsing and again before bed.

By the third day of this routine, I was almost back to a normal range of motion. But I decided to take the rest of the week off from CrossFit and focus on stretching and mobility. Remember, listening to what your body is telling you it needs is crucial. Push yourself to take on new adventures, but don’t push yourself solely to avoid the fear of missing out.

Conclusion

After returning to CrossFit, I’ve already noticed shorter recovery times and more energy. I attribute these benefits to the rest, cold therapy, and Pulsing regimen I have started! Overall, cold therapy made a great addition to my recovery routine. It’s certainly something I will continue to explore!

Pulse Pricing Guide

Do you know which machine and accessories are the perfect fit for you? Download our free Pricing Guide to get details, specs, and comparison charts to help you pick the perfect Pulse PEMF system for your goals and budget.

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