For readers who want to learn what cryotherapy is and how it works.
The health and wellness world is moving so quickly and has so many trends, it can often feel overwhelming to keep up. Whether it’s putting charcoal in your toothpaste, starting each morning with celery juice, or filling your morning coffee with adaptogens, it seems like there’s a new trend every week to try. Prioritizing health and self-care is incredibly important, but it’s hard to wade through the trends to find out what actually works. One minute you’re reading about toxins inside of your body, and the next your spending a fortune on something that may not even be useful. Plenty of wellness trends have been debunked, but there are many out there that promote overall health and are worth the while.
If you’re tapped into the health and wellness world, you’ve probably heard of cryotherapy. You may recognize it as “that thing celebrities do where they step into a huge tank and freeze themselves.” And while it may seem that cryotherapy has come out of nowhere in the last few years, it’s actually been around for decades. You also don’t have to be a famous athlete or a celebrity to use cryotherapy and reap its health benefits.
What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy actually means “cold therapy.” Cryotherapy began back 1970s Japan.Toshima Yamauchi was a medical doctor seeking a treatment for people who suffered from intense cases of rheumatoid arthritis. It was also used for achy muscles and inflammatory diseases. Like anything that becomes successful, cryotherapy began to spread. It was used in Europe for trainers and their athletes, as well as physical therapists.
Nowadays, it’s used for pretty much the same thing, though it’s certainly evolved over time. Many chiropractors and physical therapists use cryotherapy to help those who have muscle aches and injuries. It also speeds up recovery time, reduces pain, and helps people recover from surgery.
Cryotherapy exposes the body to freezing temperatures that range typically from anywhere between -200°F and -256 °F. The most popular type of cryotherapy involves a person going into a cryotherapy booth for several minutes. It’s not quite the same as just stepping outside for a little while on a cold day – it’s a lot more involved than that.
What are the different types of cryotherapy?
Some cryotherapy establishments offer whole body cryotherapy, facial cryotherapy, and local cryotherapy. Whole body cryotherapy involves standing in a cryotherapy booth for about 2-3 minutes.
A cryotherapy facial takes pressurized liquid nitrogen vapors that are then applied to the face and the neck to increase stimulation of collagen and decrease pores. The result is tighter and more even skin. “Cryofacials” can also soothe intense acne, and smooth out wrinkles and fine lines.
Local cryotherapy helps to soothe pain, swelling, and inflammation in targeted areas on the body. Local cryotherapy is an alternative to using an ice pack in a particular area. For local cryotherapy, the session time is around 5-10 minutes.
What are the benefits of cryotherapy and what can be treated by cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy has numerous benefits, such as mood improvement, better skin, and soothing aching joints. Let’s dive into some of the specifics.
- Helps Muscle Pain
- Relieves Pain from Autoimmune Diseases
- Reduces Inflammation
- Soothes Migraines
- Improves Mental Health
- Possibility of Treating Low-Risk Tumors
- Helps With Skin Conditions
So…is cryotherapy safe?
Clearly, cryotherapy has numerous benefits. But for anyone considering cryotherapy treatments, the question of its safety is probably looming in their mind. After all, it’s not surprising that stepping into a freezing chamber for several minutes can feel a little frightening.
While it’s extremely important to consult with your doctor before trying cryotherapy, or any new procedure, cryotherapy is generally safe for most people, excluding pregnant women and people with certain health issues. (Again, ask your doctor first!) Also, if you’re under 18 and want to try out cryotherapy, you must have consent from your parents.
Medical News Today notes that the first cryotherapy session may be unpleasant, but it will likely get better with each appointment. Your body begins to adjust to the frigid temperatures. You should also never have a cryotherapy session that is longer than the scheduled and regulated time frame. Also, don’t fall asleep during a session. That last one seems like a given, but it’s important to know everything in order to have a safe and productive cryotherapy session.
Can cryotherapy help you lose weight and burn calories?
The quest for new and inventive ways to lose weight has been going on forever. There’s always a new superfood, a new supplement or a new workout regime that can help shed those pesky pounds – and fast. Nobody wants to hear that in order to have long-lasting weight loss, it takes time and commitment.
But does cryotherapy help with weight loss?
The ideal way to lose weight will always be diet and exercise. In order to achieve long-term weight loss, it’s important to look at what you’re eating and how you’re moving. Cryotherapy, however, can certainly aid in your weight loss journey.
Ray Cronise, a former NASA scientist, is a believer that exposing a human body to the cold can help with weight loss. There have also been studies that show that exposure to cold temperatures can boost your metabolism anywhere from 8 to 80 percent. Cronise himself added cold to his weight loss plan, and he shed a whopping 27 pounds in a matter of weeks. He took “shiver walks,” cold showers and slept without covers.
Obviously, if you’re looking to lose weight, you should first focus on exercising and eating healthy. But educating yourself about how the cold can improve your weight loss plan and using cryotherapy to help speed up your metabolism is totally a valid path as well, and can be extremely beneficial.
What exactly does cryotherapy do to your body?
So you’ve done your research and you’ve decided to try a cryotherapy session. Exciting, yeah? But it’s important to know exactly what will happen to your body when you step in for your cryotherapy session.
When you’re inside that freezing cold booth, the cold will actually trigger the body’s responses to a drop in the temperature. Our bodies are incredibly smart. The body will immediately recognize there’s no way we can maintain our internal core temperature. There are receptors below our skin’s surface that instruct the nervous system into “vasoconstriction” which is the shrinking of arteries and blood vessels.
“The process leads to a reduction in the flow of blood to tired or damaged tissue, effectively shutting down the inflammation process and the development of swelling or bruising around an injury. At the same time, blood is retained in the body’s core and is flushed through the normal cycle and becomes enriched with oxygen, enzymes and nutrients as well as receiving an influx of hormones via the body’s endocrine system,” sports scientist and recovery specialist Lee-Ann Diab says about the process.
Once you leave a cryotherapy chamber, your nutrient and mineral-filled blood is returned from your core to the peripheral tissues. You leave feeling great.
How often can you do cryotherapy?
When you find a new health and wellness trend that you like, it can be tempting to want to do it all of the time. It’s important to know just how often you should do cryotherapy in order to experience the best results. The amount of times in which you have cryotherapy sessions is also dependent on the type of cryotherapy you’re using and what exactly you’re using it for.
Most people who do cryotherapy for overall wellness and health typically do sessions 1-2 times per week. If you’re using cryotherapy to treat an injury, muscle aches and pains, or inflammation, then sometimes a client will do a cryotherapy session 2-4 times a week. It’s useful to consult with your doctor or cryotherapy professional to find out what is best for you.
Is cryotherapy for you?
Cryotherapy can have benefits for anyone. While most of us grow up hearing it’s important to take care of ourselves, a lot of the time our mental and physical health takes a backseat to jobs, relationships, and the general stress of life. But prioritizing your mental and physical health only improves other areas in life. Making time for cryotherapy sessions can have an incredibly positive impact on your health and happiness, and is worth educating yourself about to see if it’s right for you.