Benefits of Cryotherapy: What Are They and Is It Good for You
Next Health Staff | | 0 comments
Major athletes and wellness experts have repeatedly spoken of the benefits of cryotherapy. But while everyone at least has the general knowledge that an ice pack can be good for sore muscles or an ice bath can be good after intense exercise, fewer understand the true benefits of cryotherapy, especially when it comes to cryotherapy done at a health optimization clinic.
What exactly is cryotherapy, and are the effects really good for you? Let’s find out.
What is Cryotherapy?
Since cryotherapy is still a field of medical therapy in its earliest stages, different clinics will utilize the technique in different ways.
But in general, cryotherapy is described as:
In most cases, cryotherapy is applied to the entire body – it involves just standing in a cryo chamber for up to a few minutes at a time. This provides several benefits since extreme cold induces a number of physiological changes, forcing your body to adapt, secrete certain hormones, and otherwise undergo other effects for the better.
How does cryotherapy work? In whole body cryotherapy, the patient will sit or stand in a cryo chamber for between two and five minutes. During this period, the person is exposed to liquid nitrogen, which is by nature always at subzero temperatures – in fact, this is usually between -100 and -140°C. Additionally, patients are only allowed to wear minimal clothing, such as socks, underwear, and potentially a mask or headband to protect the sensitive extremities of the face.
What Are the Benefits of Cryotherapy?
How exactly does cryotherapy benefit the body? There are actually multiple potential benefits you might experience upon signing up for a cryotherapy session.
Numerous people who have tried cryotherapy have found that the experience numbs or reduces various types of bodily pain, including arthritis pain, skin pain, and muscle soreness, particularly after an intense exercise session. Cryotherapy numbs pain receptors in the body and causes your brain to secrete pain-killing hormones.
Additionally, as your body warms up after the cryotherapy experience, your cells are flooded with warm, fresh blood cells, which bring vital nutrients and vitamins your body may use to heal from injuries or muscle soreness to the surface.
For arthritis and other types of specific pain, cryotherapy may be helpful since it provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects by its very nature of cooling the body down and shrinking blood vessels.
Support Mood Disorder Treatments
When used in conjunction with other types of medication, cryotherapy may assist in treating certain mood disorders.
In a nutshell, the extremely cold temperatures common to cryotherapy force your body to undergo physiological and hormonal responses. Your brain releases hormones like endorphins, noradrenaline, and adrenaline. These may have positive effects on certain mood disorders like depression and anxiety. One study even found evidence to this effect!
Reduce Migraine Symptoms
Some proponents of cryotherapy have found that the treatment might assist with reducing migraine symptoms in certain conditions. For instance, cryotherapy necessarily forces blood vessels to contract and can cool and numb nerves in the neck area.
Since migraines are often related to nerves firing in the neck area, this treatment may provide a direct boost to migraine recovery or symptom reduction.
Minimize Muscle Recovery
Whole-body cryotherapy could potentially provide a slightly faster solution to muscle recovery compared to ice baths or packs. For instance, a 2014 review of several scientific studies found that whole-body cryotherapy does provide a small but measurable impact on muscle recovery time and pain relief.
Support Weight Loss
Lastly, some believe that whole body cryotherapy may support weight loss efforts. When your body becomes excessively cold, it burns through many more calories in order to keep the internal organs warm. This boosts your metabolism. The more calories you burn, the more fat your body consumes to survive. Note that this doesn’t mean that cryotherapy should be used as your sole means of weight loss.
Is Cryotherapy Good for You?
It depends on who you ask and what conditions you suffer from. Cryotherapy may be helpful in treating a number of conditions or with boosting your overall vitality and wellness. However, cryotherapy is a tool to be used in conjunction with many other treatments, fitness programs, and healthy eating. It's not a one-size-fits-all miracle solution that can treat diseases, cancer, or other conditions wholesale.
Furthermore, you should only undergo cryotherapy after speaking extensively with your doctor or physician. Cryotherapy necessarily places the body under significant stress. Some people may not be able to handle the stress of a few minutes at freezing cold temperatures without exposing themselves to undue risks or side effects.
Are There Side Effects?
Technically speaking, cryotherapy is not regulated by the US FDA, nor has it been cleared as a treatment for specific medical conditions. Instead, cryotherapy is best thought of as a potential boost to physical wellness and vitality and can help support various healthful changes or routines.
Cryotherapy can also induce a number of side effects if it isn’t performed correctly or if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
- Naturally, staying in a cryotherapy chamber for more than a few minutes could be fatal. But so long as you are supervised by professionals in this therapy, this shouldn’t be a risk
- Some folks who are sensitive to temperature-related stress could experience a stroke, hypertension, seizures, or claustrophobia
- In rare cases, improper cryotherapy could result in frostbite or skin rashes when extreme cold injures fatty tissue on and beneath the skin
However, while these risks could be quite severe, you don’t normally need to worry about them so long as you undergo cryotherapy at a specialized health optimization clinic like Next Health.
How to Get Cryotherapy
When you decide you want to try cryotherapy for yourself, you’ll need to first attend a meeting with a physician or cryotherapy expert. During this meeting, you’ll discuss your potential health risks and conditions and be asked about what you hope to get out of the cryotherapy experience.
If your body is screened and there doesn’t seem to be any excess of health risks, you’ll be scheduled for a cryotherapy session whenever your schedule is free.
Upon making the appointment, you’ll be asked to strip down to your underwear or other thin clothes and asked to step into the cryotherapy chamber. These chambers are usually not very large and can only fit between one and three people on average.
On the outside, a well-trained staff member at your health optimization clinic will time your stay in the cryotherapy chamber. You'll be able to exit the cryotherapy session at any time, and you'll be monitored to ensure that there aren’t any accidents.
Upon the time of going off, you can leave the cryotherapy chamber and will be treated to various heating implements and tools to make sure that your body temperature returns to normal appropriately without heating up too quickly. Then you can report on your experiences and decide if you want to make cryotherapy a regular part of your wellness clinic visits.
What to Expect from Cryotherapy
Your cryotherapy experience will vary based on your unique body chemistry and where you get your cryotherapy appointment.
For instance, Next Health’s cryotherapy offer includes:
- A meeting with at least one of our trained professionals.
- A three-minute cryotherapy session – this is a sweet spot between a session of a too-short two minutes and a session that's too long that can go up to five minutes.
- Access to our whole-body chamber that can provide even cooling to your entire body throughout your treatment.
- Rather than use liquid nitrogen like most other cryotherapy providers, we use one of the world's first oxygen chambers to improve the effectiveness of cold therapy. This reduces the risk of unwanted side effects.
Best of all, you’ll be able to ask our trained professionals at any point if you have questions or concerns about the cryotherapy process.
What Makes Cryotherapy Different from a Cold Pack or Ice Bath?
In truth, the big thing about cryotherapy is that it provides whole-body cooling in a much more targeted way than an ice bath or a cold pack.
Cryotherapy may be well worth the time and cost compared to these other body cooling methods since:
- It’s much easier to undergo. You don’t have to prep an ice bath that can easily melt before you step inside.
- It’s observed by trained professionals at all times, which reduces the likelihood of side effects.
- It provides whole-body cooling as opposed to targeted cooling to specific muscle groups or joints. This may provide wide-ranging benefits.
In the end, the only way to know whether the benefits of cryotherapy apply to your case is to try it out for yourself. The good news is that you can make an appointment with Next Health right away and sign up for your cryotherapy session ASAP. Be sure to let us know if you have other questions or concerns about our cryotherapy process!