Tournament season can provoke overreaching syndrome in professional tennis players, which may lead to deteriorated performance. Thus, appropriate recovery methods are crucial for athletes in order to sustain high-level performance and avoid injuries. We hypothesized that whole-body cryostimulation could be applied to support the recovery process. Objective: To assess the effects of 5 days of whole-body cryostimulation combined with moderate-intensity training on immunologic, hormonal, and hematologic responses; resting metabolic rate; and tennis performance in a posttournament season. Design: Controlled laboratory study.
National Olympic Sport Centre. Patients or Other Participants: Twelve high-ranking professional tennis players. Intervention(s): Participants followed a moderate-intensity training program. A subgroup was treated with the 5-day whole- body cryostimulation (-120˚C) applied twice a day. The control subgroup participated in the training only. Main Outcome Measure(s): Pretreatment and posttreatment blood samples were collected and analyzed for tumor necrosis.
Cryostimulation is a general term used to describe localized cold therapy, water immersion, and ice- pack therapy as well as whole-body cryostimulation.1,2 It is a popular rehabilitation method because it limits secondary tissue damage and functions as a support for training programs. Whole-body cryostimulation relies on the exposure of a whole organism to an extremely low temperature (below -100˚C) in a special chamber for 2 to 3 minutes. This form of cryostimulation was first introduced and modeled for therapeutic purposes in the 1970s by Yamauchi et al.3 Due to its limited availability, whole-body cryostimulation is used rarely.4,5 However, it may accelerate the factor a, interleukin 6, testosterone, cortisol, and creatine kinase. Resting metabolic rate and performance of a tennis drill were also assessed.
Proinflammatory cytokine (tumor necrosis factor a) decreased and pleiotropic cytokine (interleukin 6) and cortisol increased in the group exposed to cryostimulation. In the same group, greater stroke effectiveness during the tennis drill and faster recovery were observed. Neither the training program nor cryostimulation affected resting metabolic rate.
Professional tennis players experienced an intensified inflammatory response after the completed tourna- ment season, which may lead to overreaching. Applying whole- body cryostimulation in conjunction with moderate-intensity training was more effective for the recovery process than the training itself. The 5-day exposure to cryostimulation twice a day ameliorated the cytokine profile, resulting in a decrease in tumor necrosis factor a and an increase in interleukin 6.