Cold therapy in one form or another has long been used in sport to treat injuries and to aid recoveries. Where it was once an ice pack on the knee though, cryotherapy has evolved into an entire industry aimed at ensuring athletes recover quickly and return to peak performance.
Rugby league is one of the most physically demanding sports on the planet. Each player can be involved in up to 50 collisions per match that carry as much force as a car crash.
Bumps, bruises and general soreness are par for the course from your local A grade player all the way through to the NRL. But where your local player might slap an ice pack on a bruise to accompany a beer at the pub, NRL players are using a variety of techniques to reduce soreness and recover from ever more intense matches.
Clubs have taken to installing ice baths in their performance centres while others have invested in cryotherapy – chambers of air cooled to minus 85 degrees that players stand in wearing just mittens, socks and underwear.
So just what does this cold therapy do and how does it benefit athletes?