What is cold therapy? Could it possibly help post-training recovery? Did it help Floyd Mayweather beat Manny? And most importantly have there been any studies at all conducted that support its effectiveness?
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So a couple of days ago I was really excited watching the fight between Floyd and Pacquiao. Finally! After 5 years they are facing each other in the ring! I though Floyd was gonna throw some of his stunts pre fight where he gets himself arrested on purpose. But behold! A seemingly different Floyd emerges even with less trash talk and a more serious demeanor, which only shows that he was really taking his present opponent seriously and we all know that it is a sign of respect between two people in a duel (that your opponent takes you seriously) which I will take as a bonus.
So after the fight I cannot say that I am not disappointed. The way the fight went wasn’t the outcome that most of the crowd wanted – at least not the ones who expected a LALAPALOOSA! Well needless to say that most people did. Having Manny Pacquiao made many to expect a brawl and a knockout bout. I don’t blame them! After all Manny has been itching to fight Floyd for the longest time!
But through it all to be honest I can say that I really enjoyed the fight (I know many people will hate me for that!). What not many people could appreciate is the amount of survival skills that Floyd must have had to be able to play around the ring with the Pacman! Yes not many will appreciate the kind of boxing that he did (especially those who don’t really know a thing about boxing except having an idea of two people throwing punches mindlessly), but I did and it was a work of art.
You see being in the ring with a boxer like Manny is like being in a cage with a lion! I say he did a good job not being eaten for twelve rounds which in itself should count as a victory; something that Haton, Coto,and even DelaHoya didn’t have much success with.
Now I am not an “anti-Pacman” neither am I a diehard Floyd fan, I am not a fan of anyone but boxing itself (and not even an expert or a hardcore fan for that matter) but I really appreciated the game that Floyd has brought to the table last Saturday against a very hard opponent who could have easily fed him the matt had he been careless. Fortunately for Floyd not only was he able to survive but he was able to dominate the score cards with lots of clean-landing shots that might have not caused even the slightest pain to Manny (Pacman might not even have felt his punches) but landed anyways with laser-guided precision which were hard for the judges to miss.
Even in my end, I was getting kinda frustrated by round 9 and knew the outcome of bout seeing Floyd still was on his feet. And Manny really having a hard time landing clean blows with Floyd’s very nimble evasion skills that has gotten Pacquiao landing a punch with every two that his opponent lands cleanly to him; albeit with comparatively less power than his since they were designed for the sole purpose of scoring points.
Some say that it has become a “running” match but these people just don’t understand boxing at all; and as much as I enjoy a brutal brawl, I understand the vast boxing skills that were applied in the ring between Manny and Floyd that day of May. And anyone who knows boxing can tell you that the way Floyd did it was the only way to stand up against a power-packed out-puncher like Manny, but not anyone can actually “do” it but Floyd (at least not before they get knocked out), so I give him props for that. But I do have to admit that a “Unanimous decision” was kinda hard to believe as, yes Floyd dominated the punches landed, but we saw that it was a really well fought close fight. But anyways that is what happens if fighters like Pacquiao fall short of knocking out hit and run boxers like Floyd.
Now let’s get to the main topic today :Cold Therapy:
Now this wasn’t really meant to become a Boxing critique site, so I do apologize for the long “intro” about Floyd’s Survival. But let’s get to the point: Prepping for the fight, Floyd regularly throughout his training, has visited SubZero Recovery in Las Vegas for daily immersions into a tank of nitrogen gas that reaches temperatures as low as minus-240 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mayweather was the first customer to use the new cryosauna at Subzero Recovery, which opened earlier this month, the company said. The number of cryotherapy centers in the U.S. has risen from around six in 2012 to “at least 30” today, as Joanna Fryben, co-owners of KryoLife in New York City told New York Magazine. In Europe, the practice is far more popular, and a brief treatment typically runs between $64 to $90 per session.
Now if you people are wondering what the hell that is? It’s just a fancy version of getting into a tub and your coach throwing buckets of ice cubes in it after training!
I will be honest; I never really thought that Floyd, even with the nimbleness that he is known for, will be able to stand up against Pacquiao’s power. But come last Saturday, he did! Did this cold-exposure really help him achieve his top shape? Could we possibly apply a similar technique to help us recover in between workouts?
Enter Cold-Water Theraphy!
Cold water therapy has been around since the dawn of mankind. Cold serves as some kind of a “hormetic” shock (good shock) that stimulates increased recovery rate and encourages better wellbeing. Maybe that is why Floyd was less “anti-social” and more professional going into the fight that ONE time? Perhaps the Cold therapy really DID set his mind straight and got his systems working correctly – as a plus it might have just helped him recover faster from his training thus able to train more and work harder.
In Theory, exposure to cold should get your body healing up faster like you were on roidZ – or at least reduce the soreness from your last session – and thus you will be able to perform and train more often and exert more the next session. Faster recovery ability is the Holy Grail in any physically-oriented sport.
Cold water therapy could make your recovery faster and help reduce the pain from your previous bouts of training, reducing over-all inflammation, making sure you will be 100% recovered by the next session, thus you will be able to feel better and exert more, and also give your 100%!
Cold might increase overall fitness per a certain study conducted to 64 indian subjects:
Thermal Acclimatization to Cold in Men Exposed to Antarctic Environment during Summer
U. SACHDEVA, MEENAKSHI NAIDU, G. SUNDARESAN
(take a look at the PDF for the entire study here: ARTICLE+17, courtesy of Tenth Indian Expedition to Antarctica, Scientific Report, 1995
Department of Ocean Development, Technical Publication No. 8, pp. 261-269)
The study took place during austral summer, i.e. December 1990 to February 1991 on the members of Tenth Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica at the Indian Antarctic station, “Maitri”. The air temperature averaged 3°C with winds upto 25 km/hr. There was 24 hour sunshine with blizzards every 8-10 days lasting for 24 to 48 hrs.
The experiments were conducted on 64 healthy male volunteers. Their mean age was 35.3 yrs (range 25-53 yrs), mean height 168.3 cms and mean weight 64.82 kg. The cold exposure began on 22nd of Dec. 1990 when the expedition ship reached the fast ice of Antarctica
The increase in body weight implies that there has been an increase in tissue mass. Fig. 4 also illustrates that abdominal girth dropped after 8 weeks, and skin fold thickness increased slightly during summer stay in Antarctica. The increase in body weight does not correlate with no change in skin fold thickness after 8 weeks of stay and probably this was due to intake of high caloric diet in Antarctica. Thelater decrease in abdominal circumference does suggest redistribution of body fat. However, it is worthwhile to re-valuate these parameters in future expeditions.
In conclusion, results from the present study support the hypothesis that cold acclimatization in Antarctica results in increase of cutaneous blood flow, however this effect cannot be detected by monitoring skin temperature. A small increase in skin blood flow as measured by Laser Doppler flowmeter could be responsible for prevention of cold injuries. The vascular cold acclimatization is initiated within one week of stay in Antarctica and by 8 weeks it is complete as no further increase in blood flow was induced after cold immersion. The nature of neural or vascular changes resulting in alteration of CIVD in Antarctic acclimatized men needs to be investigated.
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The subjects gained weight
DID NOT get FAT
That’s another way of saying that they gained “lean” mass.
They ended up having SLIMMER WAIST!!!!! That’s right! No lipo-surgery required!
We are not certain whether it’s because of the increased muscle exertion, were they over-compensating to maintain and stabilize core temperature? Is it because they were forced to eat more to increase their metabolism? Were their bodies just forced to increase nutrient absorption to fuel their bodies better during the cold weather? Were they forced to move around a little more to avoid freezing to death? It could be anything or everything of the above!
But some recent studies show that cold weather activates your “brown fat”! Yep like brown rice, brown fat is the healthier fat (no, it’s not the LDL, HDL issue) brown fat is basically “lipids” but they are more like muscles instead of fat in composition, as they are originally involved in thermoregulation or keeping your body warm when you were an infant.
Further, recent studies using Positron Emission Tomography scanning of adult humans have shown that it is still present in adults in the upper chest and neck. The remaining deposits become more visible (increasing tracer uptake, that is, more metabolically active) with cold exposure, and less visible if an adrenergic beta blocker is given before the scan. The recent study could lead to a new method of weight loss, since brown fat takes calories from normal fat and burns it. Scientists were able to stimulate brown fat growth in mice, but human trials have not yet begun.
I am not all for brown fat transplants and stuff, but brown fat positively reacting to cold exposure tells us something good about cold exposure! So perhaps that is why people are having success with cold-water treatment. There is something in the way the cold water makes our body react that restores balance and wellbeing.
So even if there are still only a few studies that tackle cold-exposure/cold shock therapy in relation to well-being and more specifically muscle recovery (why would pharmaceutical companies bother to let you know that there is another way to healthy without those expensive medications?). But the testimonials and our experiences in general beg to differ with the lack of evidence. I leave it in your own hands whether or not to consider cold-water therapy as a method to aid recovery.
But just in case you consider, it is best to apply cold exposure as immediately after training as possible to maximize its recovery potential. Cold water immersion sessions should last for 4-10 minutes. As time goes by you will be able to manage to immerse for longer periods of time but do not go over 20 minutes. Once your body has quite numbed to the cold you would have pretty much accomplished the goal.
Grab 2 to 3 bags of ice from your local convenience store then fill up your tub. You can gradually involve your torso as you progress since it should be very uncomfortable at first. Take these 5 minutes as your own meditation time. Visualize and tell yourself that you are feeling very warm, this will further help your body generate its inner heat and insulate and who knows: might also help your brown fats activate!
If you are aiming for a more trimmed waist and fat loss, then imagine how huge of a help this cold water immersion could be as your body will be forced to maintain its temperature and this means it will expend tons of calories to get you through these immersions.
I used to do these cold water immersions but rather unintentionally. I used to go up get ready to go to work by 5am so you could imagine how cold the water could be at that time! But I never leave home without a bath so I always brace myself every morning. And hot showers aren’t at all practical where I’m at. I was at my leanest back then at 5% subcutaneous skin fold body fat.
A much simpler way to do this would be if you have an adjustable shower then set the temperature gradually lower and lower. Again, once your body has quite numbed to the cold you would have pretty much accomplished your goal.
Or for the MOST SIMPLE way to go about this is to do what the good ol’ Russian lifters do and find your nearest freezing pond and get half of your body in there! Damn! Maybe that is why Russians lifters are so good!
See you in the nearest ice hole! Eat your eggs, people!