We most often hear about cryotherapy being used to boost performance for elite athletes like Christiano Ronaldo and Von Miller. High performance athletes use whole-body cryotherapy to speed recovery and reduce injuries, the same way American athletic teams like the Boston Red Sox and the Dallas Cowboys have been using ice baths for decades.
The reason why the world's best athletic coaches recommend extreme low temperature treatments after a workout are many:
- Extreme cold constricts blood vessels and slows cellular function. When normal circulation is restored, this act of blood vessel constriction and expansion moves lactic acid out of the muscles, reducing post-exertion soreness.
- Cold treatments reduce swelling due to muscle breakdown, like putting an ice pack on an injury.
- The low temperatures trigger a natural immune response that reduces inflammation.
Until now, conventional wisdom has recommended that average fitness enthusiasts don't need to undergo the risks of an ice bath, and can simply alternate hot and cold showers to boost post-workout recovery. But with advanced, fast, whole-body cryotherapy treatments becoming more widely available, more and more people are taking advantage of this state-of-the-art treatment. As the use of cryotherapy expands, we are discovering a wider range of applications and benefits.
Treating illness. Cryotherapy has been used in Japan for decades to treat autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The fight-or-flight response triggered in a cryosauna naturally boosts immunity.
Reducing pain. While athletes use cryotherapy to reduce pain after exertion, people are also getting into a cryosauna to reduce their suffering from chronic pain conditions like lower back pain and fibromyalgia.
Boosting weight loss. The exposure to extreme cold forces the body to quickly burn calories to maintain your core temperature. During a 2- to 3-minute session, the body can burn as many as 800 calories. And some studies show that cryotherapy boosts the metabolism overall, so that the accelerated calorie consumption lasts for hours or days after the initial treatment.
Improving the look of skin. The dramatic constriction and expansion of surface blood vessels during a cryotherapy session improves circulation, drains the lymphatic system, and detoxifies the skin. Not only do people find that cryotherapy makes the skin look younger, but it is beneficial for skin issues like psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.
Enhancing mood and feeling of well-being. Cryotherapy induces an adrenaline surge in the body, which, along with reducing pain, provides an overall boost to emotions and mood.
Growing hair. The surge of collagen and increased circulation provided by a cryotherapy treatment promote hair growth. Cryotherapy is being used for people who suffer from alopecia and chemotherapy-induced hair loss to promote new hair growth. And, while the science is limited on this claim, many women report that their fingernails also grow longer and stronger due to cryotherapy treatments.
Cryotherapy is being studied extensively by scientists and medical researchers to fully explore the range of benefits and determine optimal treatment regimens. While some studies are ambiguous, many show clear and measurable results of cryotherapy. It is also possible that, due to the improved mood and feeling of euphoria after treatment, some people over-state their results and improvements. However, when practiced properly, whole-body cryotherapy has a wide range of proven benefits and extremely low risks, particularly when compared to the risks of an ice bath.Cryotherapy has become a lifestyle for many people. While athletes and fitness enthusiasts use it after a workout to speed recovery, some use it to alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain and immune disorders. Still others have made it part of their health and beauty routine, to maintain a youthful appearance. And some people start the day with cryotherapy to boost their mood and metabolism all day long. With increasing access to this technology, and more research being done all the time, we are sure to discover an even wider range of applications and benefits.