What are the benefits of cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy chamber

What are the benefits of cryotherapy?  Sitting in a cold tank might seem an odd path to health.  But cryotherapy is becoming increasingly popular.  Many health experts claim that cold therapy can improve mental and physical health and prolong life.   I started cold therapy in 2016 for cellular health during my stem cell knee repa to lose weight andto get rid of inflammation.  However, in 2020, I bravely went into my first cryo chamber.

 

What is cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is a treatment that involves the use of freezing or near-freezing temperatures.  Cryotherapy can be unpleasant, particularly for people who don’t like to be cold.

The whole-body cryotherapy is a physical medical treatment widely used in sports medicine.  Firstly, the most recent studies confirmed this therapy’s anti-inflammatory, anti-analgesic, and anti-oxidant effects by highlighting the underlying physiological responses.  In addition to its therapeutic effects, whole-body cryotherapy has been demonstrated to be a preventive strategy against the harmful effects of exercise-induced inflammation and soreness.  Novel findings have stressed the importance of fat mass on cooling effectiveness and the starting fitness level in the final result.  Furthermore, exposure to cryotherapy mimics exercises since it affects myokines expression in an exercise-like fashion, thus opening another possible window on the therapeutic strategies for metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.  Finally, the clinical output (pain, soreness, stress, and post-exercise recovery) is often improved compared to either the starting condition or the untreated matched group.  Also, the number and the frequency of sessions that should be applied to obtain the best therapeutic results have been intensely investigated in the last few years.

What to Expect?

I took my first cryo therapy in Boulder Restore Bar.  The experienced assistant explained that I’d be going for a few minutes and he would be monitoring my progress.  The door hinge and the choice of music were under my control.  I picked, the most popular setting that involves standing in a cryotherapy booth for 3 minutes at -166.  I won’t lie to you; it was a bit cold…dah!  Yet, I used calming breathing and focused on music.  The assistant provided gloves, a hat, socks, and sleepers.  Three cold minutes is a long time.  However, I felt like someone clicked a reboot button afterward.  The results are instant – I’ve done cryo for about ten sessions and feel like my inflammation has reduced; I feel more energy and zest for life!  Most importantly, I was able to get stronger and leaner.

Benefits

1.  Pain relief and muscle healing

Cryotherapy can help with muscle pain and joint and muscle disorders like arthritis.  It may also promote faster healing of athletic injuries.  Doctors have long recommended using ice packs on injured and painful muscles.

A study published in 2000 found that cryotherapy offered temporary relief from the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.  The research found that cryotherapy with ice packs could reduce the damaging effects of intense exercise.  People who used cryotherapy also reported less pain.  Another 2017 study also supports the benefits of cryotherapy for relieving muscle pain and speeding healing.  However, the study found that cold water immersion was more effective than whole-body cryotherapy.  Not all studies support the role of cryotherapy in muscle healing.  A 2015 Cochrane Review study looked at four studies of cryotherapy for the relief of muscle pain and found no significant benefits.

2.  Weight Loss

Cryotherapy can help with weight loss.

3.  Reduced inflammation

Inflammation is one way the immune system fights infection.  However, sometimes the immune system becomes overly reactive.  Chronic inflammation is linked to health problems such as cancer, diabetes, depression, dementia, and arthritis.  As such, reducing inflammation could also improve overall health and reduce the risk of numerous chronic ailments.

4.  Preventing dementia

If cryotherapy reduces inflammation, it could also reduce the risk of developing dementia.

A 2012 paper suggests the possibility of cryotherapy reducing the inflammation and oxidative stress associated with dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and other age-related forms of cognitive decline.

5.  Reducing anxiety and depression

Research findings that cryotherapy may reduce inflammation suggest that it could treat mental health conditions linked to inflammation.  Some preliminary research on cryotherapy and mental health also supports this claim.  A small 2008 study found that in a third of people with depression or anxiety, cryotherapy reduced symptoms by at least 50 percent.  This was a much more significant reduction than in people who did not undergo cryotherapy.

6.  Improving symptoms of eczema

The chronic inflammatory skin condition known as eczema can cause intensely itchy patches of dry skin.  A small 2008 study trusted sources of people with eczema had participants stop using eczema medications.  Then they tried cryotherapy.  Many saw improvements in their eczema symptoms, though some complained of frostbite on small areas of the skin.

Takeaway: Try it unless you hate cold and feel claustrophobic!  What do you get to loose?  But please first consult your medical doctor.  I am not a medical doctor and only share my personal experience.

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