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

What are Cryokinetic exercises?

  • Cryokinetics involves applying cold therapy to a part of the body then performing active exercises.
  • Applying cold before performing rehabilitation exercises allows the exercises to be done pain-free, sooner than they might otherwise would be.
  • The anaesthesia or numbness arising from ice application does not remove pain-sensing mechanisms, it only removes the current pain from tissue damage. Therefore, if active exercises are too vigorous pain will still occur.

How long should I apply cold for?

Cold therapy should be applied for a maximum of twenty minutes which should be sufficient to produce the numbed response which is required. The process can be repeated for 5 minutes to re-numb the area if necessary.

Exercises performed during cryokinetics shoulde be active exercises. This means the patient performs them independently of any help from a therapist. For example when recovering from a sprained ankle, you might do ankle mobility exercises. Active exercises would involve you moving your ankle up and down yourself. As opposed to a passive exercise where your therapist would move the ankle themselves without any input from the patient.

Cryokinetic exercises should be gradually increased in intensity, providing they remain pain-free. The key to the success of cryokinetics appears to be progressing as quickly as possible from one exercise to the other. Unlike conventional rehabilitation programs where a certain number of reps must be completed, if the athlete can perform the exercise, smoothy, and pain-free then they can progress.

The benefits of cryokinetics include:

  • Exercise increases blood flow to the injured area, vital in healing, once the initial acute phase has passed and any bleeding has stopped.
  • Cryokinetic exercise re-establishes neuromuscular function and is possibly much earlier than normal and as such atrophy or wasting of the muscles has not had time to set in.
  • Swelling is reduced dramatically through the combination of cooling and exercise.

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