Beneficial effects of the whole-body cryotherapy on sport haemolysis


  • Giuseppe Banfi University of Milan, Italy
  • Gianluca Melegati IRCCS Galeazzi, Milan, Italy
  • Alessandra Barassi University of Milan, Italy
  • Gianvico Melzi d'Eril University of Milan, Italy



Hemolysis, Athletes, MSCV, Haptoglobin, Rugby


Background. Sport's anemia is a common risk for athletes. The principal source of an accelerated turnover of the erythrocytes in sportsmen is the intravascular hemolysis. This phenomenon is induced by mechanical breakage for impact of feet and muscular contractions, but also by osmotic changes causing membrane fragility, typically evident after exercise, when free radicals are increased. Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) covers a wide range of therapeutic applications and consists of briefly exposing the body to extremely cold air. In sports medicine, WBC is used to improve recovery from muscle injury; however, empirical studies on its application to this area are lacking. Design and Methods. We recruited ten rugby players of the Italian National Team. In these athletes we measured hematological parameters, before including mean sphered cell volume (MSCV) by means of Coulter LH750, besides of  haptoglobin, and after WBC. The subjects underwent five sessions on alternate days once daily for one week. During the study period, the training workload was the same as that of the previous weeks. Results. We observed in the athletes increase of haptoglobin and an increase of MSCV after the treament period. Conclusions. WBC reduces sports haemolysis, as judged from MSCV and haptoglobin data, supported from other haematological values, as well as the absence of mean corpuscolar volume and reticulocytes increase. The treatment is useful to prevent the physiological impairments derived from sport haemolysis.


Download data is not yet available.


Banfi G., Di Gaetano N., Simon Lopez R., Melegati G. Decreased mean sphered cell volume values in top-level rugby players are related to the intravascular hemolysis induced by exercise. Lab Hematol. 2007; 13:103-7.

Banfi G., Krajewska M., Melegati G., Patacchini M. Effects of the whole body cryotherapy on haematological values in athletes. Br J Sports Med. 2008; 42:558.

Banfi G., Melegati G., Barassi A., Dogliotti G., Melzi D'Eril G., Dugué B., Corsi M.M. Effects of whole-body cryotherapy on serum mediators of inflammation and serum muscle enzymes in athletes. Thermal Biol 2009 (in press).

Davidson R.J.L., Robertson S.D., Galea G., Maugham R.J. Hematological changes associated with marathon running. Int J Sports Med. 1987; 8:19-25.

Dugué B., Smolander J., Westerlund T., Oksa J., Nieminen R., Moilanen E., Mikkelson M. Acute and long-term effects of winter swimming and whole-body cryotherapy on plasma antioxidative capacity in healthy women. Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2005; 65:395-402.

Fallon K.E., Sivyer G., Sivyer K., Dare A. Changes in haematological parameters and iron metabolism associated with a 1600 kilometre ultramarathon. Br J Sports Med. 1999; 33:27-31.

Maes M., Cooreman E., Delanghe J., Schoupe S., Wauters A., Neels H., et al. Components of biological variation in plasma haptoglobin: relationship to plasma fibrinogen and immune variables, including interleukin-6 and its receptor. Clin Chim Acta. 1995; 239:23-35.

Smolander J., Westerlund T., Uusitalo A., Dugué B., Oksa J., Mikkelson M. Lung function after acute and repeated exposures to extremely cold air (-110 degrees C) during whole-body cryotherapy. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2006; 26:232-4.

Telford R.D., Sly G.J., Hahn A.G., Cunningham R.B., Bryant C., Smith J.A. Footstrike is the major cause of hemolysis during running. J Appl Physiol. 2003; 94:38-42.


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Banfi, G., Melegati, G., Barassi, A., & d’Eril, G. M. (2009). Beneficial effects of the whole-body cryotherapy on sport haemolysis. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 4(2), 189–193.



Sport Medicine, Nutrition & Health

Most read articles by the same author(s)