Have you ever wondered why applying ice can help ease your pain? The cold helps reduce inflammation, which is the body’s response to injury or illness. Though it’s often used in sports medicine, cold therapy can also help treat chronic pain conditions like back pain and arthritis.
A specific form of cold therapy, cryotherapy, is becoming more popular as a technique for pain management. What is cryotherapy, and what are the cryotherapy benefits you can experience firsthand?
Keep reading to find out!
What is Cryotherapy?
First, let’s answer the question that’s on everyone’s minds: what is cryotherapy, exactly?
Cryotherapy is a form of whole-body cold treatment. The procedure involves exposing your body to temperatures below -200°F. Treatment only lasts between two to four minutes.
Today, gyms, spas, and cryotherapy facilities allow you to step into a cryotherapy machine for:
- Improving your skin health
- Boosting your mood
- Increasing your energy
- Weight loss
You can use cryotherapy to supplement another health and wellness program, too. In fact, cryotherapy is often used as an adjunctive form of treatment.
You’ll step into a cryotherapy chamber wearing a face mask, earmuffs, socks, gloves, and underwear. Once inside, you’ll feel cold right away. You might shiver a little, but remember, treatment is only for a few minutes.
That time is long enough for the cold to just penetrate your skin. Your essential organs will stay safe.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable at any point, you can open the door to the cryotherapy chamber to get out.
It’s important to know that cryotherapy isn’t safe for everyone. For example, you should step into a cryotherapy machine if you’re pregnant. It’s also not ideal if you have a serious health condition like a heart problem or hypertension.
If you have an allergy to cold or nerve problems, cryotherapy could potentially make your condition worse.
Some people also experience minor skin irritations.
You might notice cryotherapy benefits after one session. However, it’s usually more effective when used regularly.
5 Cryotherapy Benefits
Now that we’ve answered the question “what is cryotherapy?” let’s discuss how cryotherapy can improve your health. Here are a few benefits you might notice after stepping into a cryotherapy chamber.
1. Faster Recovery
Many athletes take ice baths to reduce inflammation and ease their pain. It can also help speed up the recovery process.
Stepping into a cryotherapy chamber works the same way. In fact, cryotherapy takes half the time. Plus, you won’t have to immerse yourself in cold water.
In addition to helping you recover from an intense workout, cryotherapy can also improve your skin health, too.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. Inflammation is the body’s response to illness or injury and allows your body to heal damage. Too much inflammation, however, can have a negative impact on your health.
Atopic dermatitis can cause dry and itchy skin. One of the benefits of cryotherapy is that it can improve your blood’s antioxidant levels and reduce inflammation at the same time.
Antioxidants help your body fight free radicals that can cause skin damage.
In a study on mice, cryotherapy also helped target sebaceous glands, which indicates cryotherapy could help ease acne symptoms, too. As a result, localized and whole-body cryotherapy can help your skin heal.
2. Weight Management
Some people turn to cryotherapy weight loss treatments.
Research indicates that exposure to cold temperatures can help the body produce brown fat. Brown fat is a type of fat that uses calories to keep the body warm. This process allows the body to burn excess body fat.
Other cryotherapy providers say that sitting in the cold for a few minutes can increase the metabolism throughout the day.
Currently, there’s no direct link between cryotherapy and weight loss. However, many people use multiple cryotherapy treatments to help them lose weight.
Cryotherapy’s ability to speed up the recovery process and relieve muscle pain could help people return to their regular fitness routine. This process could help you lose weight through exercise if you feel unable to work out due to chronic pain.
3. Pain Relief
Cryotherapy’s ability to relieve inflammation could reduce your pain and improve your overall health. In fact, inflammation is connected to many health conditions, including:
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
Relieving your chronic inflammation could help reduce your risk of developing a serious health condition.
Many people use cryotherapy to relieve aches and pains. It can also numb nerve irritation (which is why it’s ideal for treating sports injuries). Treatment could also help treat pinched nerves or other acute injuries.
Cryotherapy could help treat your arthritic pain, too. In this study, cryotherapy reduced pain for patients suffering from arthritis. Remember, arthritis is one of the conditions that’s caused by chronic inflammation.
If you don’t suffer from arthritis, you might use cryotherapy to treat your migraines. Cryotherapy can help numb the nerves in your neck. It can also cool the blood that passes through your intracranial vessels.
This process could help relieve migraine symptoms.
Whole-body cryotherapy could also trigger a physiological hormonal response. As a result, your body will release more endorphins, noradrenaline, and adrenaline. These neurotransmitters can have a positive effect on your mood.
In fact, whole-body cryotherapy has also worked as an adjunct treatment for depressive and anxiety disorders. After three weeks of treatment, patients experienced a 50% decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms.
Increasing your serotonin production (the body’s feel-good hormone) could reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, too.
5. Potential Cancer Treatment
In some cases, localized cryotherapy could also help as a form of cancer treatment. The process works by freezing cancer cells with ice crystals. However, the technique is only used for low-risk cancers like prostate cancer so far.
This treatment is known as cryosurgery.
Read More: 3 skin problems that cryotherapy can solve
What is Cryotherapy?: Your Guide to Cool Cryotherapy Health Benefits
To recap, what is cryotherapy? It’s a whole-body treatment technique that works to relieve pain, inflammation, and more! Cool off and start experiencing these cryotherapy benefits for yourself today! Searching for other ways to improve your health and wellbeing? Explore our latest Health posts today.