Cryotherapy - Cold Therapy

Cold therapy or cryotherapy as it is known is applying ice or cold to an injury for a therapeutic effect.

Below we outline when to apply cold therapy and when heat is more appropriate as well as the contraindications of cryotherapy, methods of application and the effects of applying cold therapy to a sports injury.

Cold therapy is often the immediate first aid applied as soon as possible for many sports injuries helping to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation. It is also beneficial alternating with heat after the acute stage has passed.

Cryotherapy PRICE Method

The PRICE technique is the gold standard treatment of acute sporting injuries and stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. It should be applied as early as possible and continued for 24-48 hours.

Applying Cryotherapy

There are numerous methods which can be used to apply different forms of cold therapy. Which one to use will depend on the body part to be cooled and the type of injury present.


Cryokinetics is a rehabilitation technique involving ice application followed by progressive active exercises. It has been shown to be very sucessful in treating ligament sprains.


Cryostretching is a technique combining cold therapy or cryotherapy and stretching. Application of a cold pack is used to reduce muscle spasms and so increase flexibility.

Cryotherapy Contraindications

A contraindication for cold therapy is an injury or condition that might mean applying cold could be dangerous. It is important to be aware of these!

Effects of Cryotherapy

Cold therapy or cryotherapy has a number of effects on the body both immediately after injury and later in the rehabilitation process.

Hot vs Cold Therapy

There is often confusion following an injury concerning whether to apply cold therapy or whether to warm the area. The answer depends on the type of injury you have sustained.