Developed in Japan in 1978, cryotherapy was originally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Its benefits have been studied and it is now used in the US. Most cryosaunas use liquid nitrogen to lower the skin’s temperature approximately 30-50% F in the space of 2-3 minutes. Although liquid nitrogen is used, it is not in direct contact with the skin. The skin reacts to the cold and sends messages to the brain, the brain then stimulates regulatory functions and assists areas that might not have been working at their best.
Below are 7 benefits of using cryotherapy.
1) Faster Recovery from Exercise
Athletes have known for centuries that ice can help speed recovery. Since muscle and joint strength is increased, they can get back to training sooner. Several studies have shown that cryotherapy is effective against delayed muscle soreness. Enriched blood flows back through the body, and unlike ice baths, cryotherapy requires little recovery time before returning to training or exercising.
2) Immune System Boost
An immune system boost is often attributed to cold therapy. The theory behind this thinking is that the rapid exposure to extreme cold causes the hypothalamus to turn on anti-inflammatory processes in the body. Another theory is that 3 minutes of intense cold will fool the body into thinking it is a survival situation and so ramp up the normal immune process.
3) Increased Energy and Metabolism
After a session of cold therapy, it takes a lot of energy to bring the body’s temperature back to normal. A three minute treatment can burn 500 to 800 calories. In addition, many people report feeling like they have a ton of energy as well as feeling more mentally alert. This is probably from the release of catecholamines and other neuropeptides, a part of the body’s reaction to the cold. These neuro-chemicals can create feelings of euphoria and may be the reason many people start to laugh after they jump into cold water.
4) Help for Inflammation
Ice is often used to treat inflammation when you have a bruise, sprained ankle, or pinched nerve. The cold temperature causes the body to reduce inflammation. With cryotherapy, the entire body is cold, so inflammation is reduced throughout the entire body. This goes back to the roots of cryotherapy and its development for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Cold appears to have short- and long-term benefits when it comes to chronic pain. It can also make other treatments more effective and easier to tolerate.
5) Reduction of Chronic Pain and Fatigue
Cryotherapy also reduces fatigue, fibromyalgia, or general body pain. Everyone is different, but some experience a few hours pain-free, while others have been without pain for days. Most people feel that a brief period of intense cold is worth the hours of pain relief they get. At least one study involving fibromyalgia patients showed that after 15 sessions, their pain levels were improved.
6) Younger Looking Skin
Regular cryotherapy treatments may help lessen the appearance of wrinkles and increase the skin’s collagen production. The therapy may help rejuvenate the collagen matrix, reducing the appearance of fatty deposits and cellulite at the skin’s surface.
7) Better Mood
And lastly, cryotherapy can boost your mood. The procedure releases endorphins into the bloodstream, and the endorphins interact with the pain receptors, reducing the perception of pain. Cortisol levels are also reduced, making you feel happier.
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