What is Cryotherapy?
The term “cryotherapy” comes from the Greek terms “cryo,” meaning cold, and “therapy,” meaning cure. Cryotherapy is defined as cooling the body for therapeutic purposes, primarily to reduce pain and inflammation. Cryotherapy can be applied using various methods, including the use of ice packs, ice towels, ice massages, frozen peas, gel packs, vapo-coolant sprays, ice immersion, and a cold whirlpool bath. In general, cryotherapy is administered to relieve pain and inflammatory symptoms caused by numerous disorders, particularly those associated with rheumatic conditions. Cryotherapy has been used and recommended for numerous types of injuries and bodily conditions throughout the years. Cryo was originally developed in Japan in 1978 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and in the last decade we’ve seen a major rise in the popularity of cryo in the United States, particularly related to use in sports and athletics.
How Cryotherapy Works
Many of the cryo machines on the market use vaporized liquid nitrogen, lowering the client’s skin temperature anywhere from 40 to 70 degrees Farenheit in a period of two or three minutes. Liquid nitrogen is used to create the cold temperature, and this liquid is pulled straight from our breathable air — which contains 78% nitrogen and 18% oxygen. Our skin reacts to the cold, sending messages to the brain, and it stimulates regulatory functions of the body, assisting areas that might not be working to their fullest potential. During this time, thermoreceptors in the skin send signals to the brain to send the blood to the core to maintain body temperature with a process called vasoconstriction. Toxins are flushed from peripheral tissues and blood is enriched with oxygen, enzymes, and nutrients. The body activates all of its natural healing abilities and releases endorphins for further benefit.
As the body warms up again, the enriched blood flows back through the body through a process called vasodilation. As a result, whole body cryotherapy is very effective for athletic recovery and muscle repair, reduction of chronic pain and inflammation, and an overall enhancement of health and wellness.
Potential Benefits of Cryotherapy Explained
Cryotherapy and the use of cold therapy overall can be very beneficial for the body in numerous ways. We’ve seen many examples of this at our CryoCafe locations, and some of the major potential benefits of both whole body and localized cryotherapy are listed out below:
- Decreased inflammation – Ice, when applied to a specific area of the body, reduces inflammation, such as when you have a bruise. Cryotherapy, however, reduces inflammation throughout the body, so that healing can occur in more than one area at a time. If you have an injury on the arm and leg, for example, cryotherapy can automatically target these areas. Cryotherapy also stimulates the vagus nerve, reducing anxiety and fatigue. The vagus nerve is literally the captain of your inner nerve center — the parasympathetic nervous system, to be specific. And like a good captain, it does a great job of overseeing a vast range of crucial functions, communicating nerve impulses to every organ in your body. Clients may see a reduction in chronic inflammation, whether that be on a wrist or knee, as well as with sinuses or acne. Directly after an injury or soreness occurs, cryo can help promote the immediate inflammation reduction of said area.
- Increased performance levels – Many athletes say cryo helps promote their recovery times and ability to perform at a higher level – whether on a field and court, or in the gym. Recovery is essential to keeping the body in shape for peak performance and cryotherapy helps with just that. Numerous NFL, NBA, and professional soccer teams have cryotherapy machines in their training facilities in order to help athletes recovery in just this way. Out with the ice bath and in with cryotherapy!
- Increased Metabolism – One of the big benefits seen from whole body cryotherapy particularly is increased metabolism as the body reheats itself. During a three minute session, the body cools down and enters fight or flight mode. When the skin is reheated, the body burns energy (calories) to reheat itself, which occurs through metabolism.
- Chronic pain and fatigue – For those that suffer from chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia or general body pain, cryotherapy can help reduce both. Some people experience a few hours of relief, while others enjoy a relief that lasts days, and even longer. Each individual is different, so results vary, but most participants feel that three minutes of cold is worth the hours of pain relief later. We’ve seen various results from clients, but almost overwhelmingly we see a decrease in chronic pain when built into a regular schedule.
- Overall mood and happiness – Mental health and depression is a major issue in our society, and we’re seeing a potential benefit on mental well being with cryo. This is due to cryo sessions helping to release endorphins into the bloodstream, which can cause for an overall mood increase. Endorphins interact with pain receptors, reducing pain perception, and cortisol levels are reduced, leaving one to feel happier.
- Collagen production – Collagen is the protein that binds skin tissue together and collagen production helps promote skin elasticity. When we are young, our bodies produce a lot of collagen, but this decreases as we get older, which is why the skin develops wrinkles and more of a rough feeling. Freezing the face for an extended period of time (ice cubes have been used for decades for the same reason), helps promote collagen production. As collagen is produced beneath the surface of the skin, you may notice an immediate tightening, fuller face, and even a possible “skin glow.”
What is Whole-Body Cryotherapy?
Whole body cryotherapy involves exposing the body to sub-zero temperatures, typically ranging from -150 to -250 degrees Fahrenheit. This intense cooling induces a number of giant physiologic changes in your body. Initially, as the blood vessels constrict, blood moves away from the limbs and towards the vital organs of the body. This is a protective and natural measure that the body takes in response to extreme cold. In the process, several systems within the body are affected and it is here that the benefits begin. Standing tanks hold one person whose torso and legs are exposed to ultra-low temperature vapors, they surround the entire body with frigid temperatures generated by liquid nitrogen. The extreme cold lowers tissue temperature, which can result in dampened pain, reduced inflammation, and increased blood flow. Some advocates seek the supposed benefits of skin toning and cellulite reduction; others even credit cryotherapy for aiding in weight loss and alleviating anxiety and depression.
What is Localized Cryotherapy?
Localized cryotherapy is the application of cryogenically cooled air to specific parts of the body. The CryoCafe machine in use is the °CRYO PENGUIN, which is designed to deliver the easiest, safest and most effective localized cryotherapy treatments in the industry. With its ergonomic design, pre-programmed treatment protocols, and built-in safety features, the °CRYO PENGUIN series offers the highest standards in cryotherapy treatments.
Localized cryotherapy can be used to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and speed up recovery from injuries through cryogenically cooled air penetrating deep into the layers of tissue and increasing blood circulation. Local Cryotherapy sessions are used for reducing pain, inflammation, and swelling in targeted areas, and we’ve seen and treated nearly every part of the body from head to toe. We’ve helped clients with cellulite reduction and anti-inflammation, we’ve helped treat wounds and swelling, skin rejuvenation and acne, headache alleviation, and even insomnia.