Cryotherapy and its benefits

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Whole body cryotherapy has been widely used in Japan since the 1970s as treatment for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, but does this treatment have benefits for people who don’t suffer from these conditions? Sorting fact from fiction when it comes to cryotherapy isn’t always easy, which means it can be difficult to determine whether it’s the right choice for you. Learn more about this promising therapeutic treatment and its benefits.

How Does it Work?

Stepping outside on a frigid day might expose your body to low temperatures, but the moisture in cold air outdoors limits how much your body can withstand without serious discomfort. Cryotherapy treatments are a dry process, which means temperatures can be significantly lower. This exposure to extremely cold temperatures triggers natural healing mechanisms throughout the body as though it were freezing, which expands capillaries up to four times their normal diameter. A flood of white blood cells speeds the healing process, while adrenaline, endorphins and other hormones are released.

What Does Cryotherapy Treat?

Many elite athletes rely on cryotherapy to keep their bodies in peak form for competition, including members of NFL and NBA teams, and for good reason. Just like a locally-applied ice pack will minimize swelling and inflammation in overworked muscles, whole body cryotherapy is lauded by athletes and celebrities for its ability to speed recovery times and relieve muscle soreness throughout the body.

The process also speeds metabolism as your body burns calories in an effort to stay warm, so it is possible to see some weight loss results with regular treatments. Increased circulation and collagen production can provide brighter, younger-looking skin, providing whole-body benefits with each session.

Cryotherapy vs. Ice Baths

Extremely low temperatures for short durations can benefit your body, but not all methods are created equal. Replicating the experience with an ice bath is not only ineffective, but also has the potential to be dangerous. Two to three minutes of exposure to dry, hyper-cold air triggers defense systems effectively, but ten to fifteen minutes in ice water can present a hypothermia risk by lowering blood temperature as the body overworks to warm blood in its core to be transported to outer tissues.

During cryotherapy treatment sessions, your body reaps the benefits of brief, extreme cold exposure that does not penetrate the body in the same manner as an ice bath.

Liquid nitrogen is used to cool the air to extreme low temperatures for cryotherapy, but the substance never comes into contact with your skin and your core body temperature remains constant.

Who Can Benefit from Cryotherapy?

While athletes and celebrities may seem like the target audience for whole body cryotherapy treatment, it’s perfect for anyone who wants to speed healing, boost metabolism and increase circulation. People who are pregnant, suffering from certain health conditions or those with open wounds are advised to speak with their doctors before trying cryotherapy, but most people can see very real benefits with minimal risk through this established and respected form of treatment.