back, pain, shoulder

“I’m so glad I got injured while attempting my first pull-up!”-said no one, ever.

Injuries suck. They’re stumbling blocks along the path to a fitter, healthier you. Whether you’re a beginner or an Olympic athlete, injuries are unavoidable along your fitness journey.

You want relief from the pain and you want to recover fast enough to get back into the gym (or basement if you’re lucky enough to have a home gym).

Cold therapy machines aren’t just for athletes. If you recently had surgery, your surgeon or another healthcare professional might have recommended a cold therapy machine to boost your recovery.

woman doctor holding a stethoscope

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best cold therapy machines to boost your muscle recovery and soothe your joint pain.

There are some cold therapy machines that require a doctor’s note to purchase. While you don’t need a doctor’s note to purchase any of these cold therapy machines, you should consult with your doctor before using any of these units, especially if you suffer from acute or chronic pain.

The faster you peruse this list to find the best cold therapy machine for you, the faster you can get back to living your life!

Disclaimer: I partner with companies to help bring you quality products. If you make a qualified purchase through my partner links, I get paid a commission for the referral at no cost to you. For more information, please see my disclaimer page.

What are the best cold therapy machines?

The best cold therapy machines can help speed up your muscle recovery, increase blood flow, and provide pain relief. They’re relatively simple to use. And with all the variety out there on the market, you’re bound to find one that fits in your budget.

While cold therapy machines can be a helpful tool for some, if you suffer from chronic and/or acute pain you should speak to a healthcare professional before using one.

If you want to learn how to reduce pain, improve blood flow, and boost your muscle recovery, read on!

Best Universal Cold Therapy Machine: Polar Active Ice® 3.0 Cold Therapy Machine

Polar Active Ice® 3.0 Universal Cold Therapy System, 16-Quart Cooling Reservoir

Overview

The Polar Active cold therapy machine is great if you want one product for all your pain relief needs. Its universal cold therapy pad is designed to be used on multiple body parts. So you don’t have to buy a separate pad for your knee, neck, hip, etc.

Key Benefits

  • The wheels make this a great option if you need a portable cold therapy machine.

  • The reservoir fits up to 12-16 oz frozen water bottles. No need to worry about your ice maker not being able to keep up.

  • This cold therapy unit runs super quiet.

pouring water into clear glass with ice cubes

Pricing

This Polar Active model is priced at $274.99.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Large ice reservoir
  • Includes universal therapy pad
  • Timer helps you schedule your cold therapy sessions

Cons

  • Condensation can build up so make sure you have a small towel handy

Best Compact Cold Therapy Machine: Vive Health Cold Therapy Machine

Vive Health Cold Therapy Machine

Overview

The Vive cold therapy machine holds 6 liters which makes it compact enough to bring around the house with you. It’s so quiet you can leave this cold therapy machine running while your light-sleeper kids are napping.

Key Benefits

  • Small “dimples” in the cold therapy pad help deliver more evenly targeted ice therapy relief.

  • Ice cubes or frozen water bottles both work perfectly. You can even use both to keep the cold temperature consistent for longer.

  • It’s compact so you won’t have to worry about any heavy lifting during your post surgery recovery.

Pricing

The Vive Health cold therapy machine is $238.99.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Universal pad is super flexible
  • More convenient than ice packs
  • Timer is user-friendly

Cons

  • No automatic setting to turn the machine back on

Best Budget Cold Therapy Machine: Leonns Cold Therapy Machine

Leonns Cold Therapy Machine

Overview

Instead of going to physical therapy clinics to use expensive cryotherapy machines, you can use this handy little device.

Key Benefits

  • The Leonns cold therapy device has a built-in timer so you can set it for up to 30 minutes at a time.

  • It comes with 6 reusable ice cubes.

  • If you want to concentrate the cold therapy on your knee, this cold therapy machine also comes with a knee pad.

ice cubes in a line

Pricing

The Leonns ice therapy machine is priced at $184.99.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Budget-friendly price
  • Includes reusable ice cubes
  • Easy-to-use settings

Cons

  • Not at quiet

Best Mid-range Cold Therapy Machine: Ossur Cold Therapy Machine

Ossur Cold Rush Cold Therapy Machine

Overview

The Ossur cold therapy machine only weighs 4.6 pounds, making it incredibly easy to move around. Despite being compact, the motor is strong enough to keep your water cold for up to six hours.

Key Benefits

  • The lid locks into place so you can carry it around without worrying about any spills.

  • The flow settings are easy to adjust using a small dial on the device. The higher the setting, the colder the temperature.

  • The universal pad works especially well for your knees.

man sitting holding swollen knee

Pricing

The Ossur cold therapy machine is $224.98.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Incredibly quiet
  • Lightweight
  • Well-insulated walls

Cons

  • Cord tends to sweat

Best Cold Therapy Machine for Athletes: PowerPlay

PowerPlay Cold and Compression Kit

Overview

The PowerPlay cold therapy unit is ideal for athletes who don’t want their injuries to sideline them for too long. If you’ve been playing sports for a while, you’re probably familiar with ice therapy. The PowerPlay cold and compression kit is great if you’re tired of those ice baths and traditional ice packs.

Key Benefits

  • The PowerPlay ice therapy system is great for athletes on the go.

  • It offers the compression necessary to help soothe sore muscles.

  • The insulation barrier prevents dripping water from making a mess.

athlete runner in starting position for relay race

Pricing

The PowerPlay cold and focal compression kit starts at $399.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Insulated bag-great for travel
  • Included wrap stays in place
  • Battery lasts up to 8 hours

Cons

  • Only includes 1 wrap for 1 specific part of your body

Best Cold Therapy Machine for Knee: Breg Polar Care Cold Therapy System

Breg Cold Therapy System

Overview

The Breg cold therapy machine can help with post surgery swelling after a knee replacement or any other knee injury. Always consult with your surgeon on what’s best for your post surgery recovery before using any cold therapy devices.

Key Benefits

  • The Breg cold therapy machine is made specifically for your knee.

  • This motorized cold therapy device is powerful enough to deliver the cold temperature you need.

  • Since the Breg Polar Care machine is made to contour to your knee, it delivers consistent cold therapy only where it’s needed.

Breg cold therapy knee wrap

Pricing

The Breg cold therapy machine is priced at $249.99.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Includes compression pad
  • Large knee wrap
  • Convenient carrying handle

Cons

  • Universal pad sold separately

Best Versatile Cold (and Heat) Therapy Machine: Aqua Relief

Aqua Relief Circulating Personal Heating Cooling Machine

Overview

The Aqua Relief Circulating Personal Heating/Cooling machine is great for when you need both forms of therapy to aid you during the healing process. This ice therapy machine comes with a universal wrap; so you can use it on any part of your body to reduce pain.

Key Benefits

  • The flexible universal wrap means you’ll have no trouble wrapping it around your shoulder or contouring to your lower back.

  • The included Velcro strap makes sure the pad stays in place.

  • The hospital grade Aqua Relief System can circulate cold water for up to 5 hours and can heat up in less than 10 minutes, but has a limiter that will not let it go above safe heat temperatures.

Pricing

The Brace Direct Hot and Cold Therapy unit is priced at $174.99.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Includes hot therapy feature
  • Large universal pad
  • Quiet motor

Cons

  • Takes a lot of ice to stay cold

What is the best cold therapy machine for you?

When trying to find the perfect cold therapy machine for yourself, you should consult with your doctor first. Also, make sure you consider your own unique needs.

Do you need to apply ice therapy to a larger surface area like your lower back? Or do you only need to apply cold treatment to your knee to reduce swelling after surgery? Or maybe you injured your shoulder and want to avoid months of expensive physical therapy.

cartoon of patient and physiotherapist inspecting an x-ray

When choosing among cold therapy units, one thing’s for sure. They’re more convenient than carrying around ice packs all day. Plus, you don’t have to worry about doing a more extreme version of cold water immersion (like a freezing cold ice bath.)

How can cold therapy machines benefit you?

One of the benefits of cold therapy is that it constricts your blood vessels. When your blood vessels are constricted this can reduce inflammation. When you reduce inflammation, this can lead to reduced joint pain.

And who doesn’t want to speed up their healing process?

cartoon of human body circulatory system

Sure, you could go the old school way of grabbing some ice packs or a bowl of ice water. But if you want to provide cold therapy that’s consistent and hassle-free, cold therapy machines are the way to go.

Another one of the benefits of cold therapy machines is that unlike regular cold packs you don’t have to worry about over-exposing yourself to cold treatment.

Being exposed to cold temperatures for a long period of time can be dangerous. Cold therapy wraps act as a barrier so that the cold isn’t directly touching your skin.

There are a few other tips about how to use a cold therapy machine safely and effectively. If you’re unsure, make sure you consult with your doctor.

ice cubes frozen together in solid sheet

Buyers Guide: How I Conducted My Research

When I first scoured the internet for the best cold therapy machines, I paid attention to a few key elements.

  • Pricing: Of course, we want the best possible cold therapy units to help us recover faster. But we don’t necessarily want to break the bank to do so. Fortunately, I found some relatively budget-friendly options.

  • Features: Basically, cold therapy machines work the same way. The real difference comes down to your own unique needs. Some cold therapy devices also offer compression therapy. Other cold therapy machines provide a great source of heat therapy too.

  • Negatives: Some cold therapy machines are a bit louder than others. The louder units tend to have a more powerful motor (since delivering continuous therapy with cold temperatures requires a more powerful motor). If this negative is a deal-breaker for you, make sure you buy a quieter model (like the Ossur cold therapy machine).

  • Support or refund/customer service: Any reputable company should stand behind their product. I read through tons of customer reviews to find companies that work with you should there be any issues with your cold therapy unit.

A Man and a Woman Working in a Call Center

Conclusion

Although I’ve never gone through surgery, I’ve had a few injuries throughout my weight lifting journey.

At first, I’d simply use an ice pack. But after a while, it was annoying to have to hold it onto my lower back or wherever else I needed an ice pack. Plus, they eventually warm up and have to be put back into the freezer.

You could also just get a good ol’ fashioned bucket of ice and cold water. But when it comes down to it, nothing beats the convenience of having 4-6 hours of steady cold therapy with a quiet, portable machine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cold therapy machines worth it?

Yes! Cold therapy machines can help you recover faster, either from an injury or post-surgery. 

Who shouldn’t use cold therapy machines?

Cold therapy machines might not be for you if you have any condition that prevents you from feeling cold sensations. Always consult with your doctor before using a cold therapy machine or other similar devices.

Can you do too much cold therapy?

Yes, it is possible to expose yourself to cold temperatures for too long. Always read the instructions on your device carefully and check with your doctor before use. 

How often should I use my cold therapy machine?

Everybody is different. Some people might need to use it 3-5 times per day for the first week or so. Other people might not need to use it as long. It’s important to check with your doctor to see what length of time is right for you. 

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