When you are building a fitness routine, proper recovery is essential to getting the results you want. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to employ the pros’ techniques for performance conditioning, including cryotherapy. As popular as this procedure is becoming among athletes and lay people alike, many people still ask: What is cryotherapy? One of Tony Robbins’ top 3 biohacks, cryotherapy is among the latest-and-greatest recovery treatments to keep the body at optimal functioning. In just a few minutes per treatment, you’re able to accelerate your recovery to stay at the top of your game. This cutting-edge technology is linked to a wide range of health outcomes that enhance athletic performance and overall well-being.
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What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy (“cold therapy”) is a medical technique by which the body is exposed to very cold temperatures (-166° F to -320° F) for about 3 minutes. The body naturally responds to the cold by constricting its peripheral tissues, forcing blood to the core to maintain your core temperature. When the body constricts, it prompts the removal of toxins to replenish and restore prime functioning.
Cryotherapy works by cooling the blood, numbing the nerves, stimulating hormonal response and prompting anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory responses in the body. The procedure can be applied to the entire body or to select areas, depending on the results you are seeking. Cryotherapy is usually effective after just one treatment, although you’ll likely want to undergo regular treatments to obtain ideal results.
Full-body cryotherapy is administered by immersing the body in cold air. You stand in an enclosed chamber filled with cold air for several minutes. The procedure stimulates the body’s cold receptors to prompt the body’s anti-inflammatory response.
Localized cryotherapy treatments are applied via ice packs, ice massage, coolant sprays and other methods. In sessions lasting about 10 minutes, localized cryotherapy stimulates a rush of oxygenated blood to the area. Localized treatments can be combined with whole-body cryotherapy to maximize effectiveness.
Cryotherapy benefits include increased blood circulation, decreased fatigue, enhanced immune functioning and accelerated recovery from injury. Cryotherapy is also used to treat specific conditions including:
Cryotherapy treats migraines by cooling the carotid arteries in the neck, which in turn cools the blood to reduce migraine pain. Ice packs are typically used to deliver this type of cryotherapy treatment.
Cryotherapy reduces acute or chronic nerve pain by numbing the nerves. This type of treatment is typically performed using a small probe to deliver cooling agents into the surrounding tissue.
Cryotherapy benefits include enhanced hormonal response, which triggers the release of endorphins and adrenaline. These are linked to short-term improvements in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Since cryotherapy increases antioxidant levels in the blood, it ameliorates inflammatory skin conditions like atopic dermatitis. Localized or whole-body treatments are effective for relieving skin inflammation.
Cryotherapy benefits in sports medicine
Research underscores cryotherapy benefits, as seen in sports medicine. The National Institute of Health reviewed extensive medical literature, confirming the anti-inflammatory, anti-analgesic and antioxidant effects of this therapy in athletes. These cryotherapy benefits were so pronounced that researchers concluded that cryotherapy prevents exercise-induced soreness and inflammation. Cryotherapy benefits also mimic exercise benefits by affecting the expression of myokines, muscle proteins that potentially inhibit metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity. In clinical trials, the final output of cryotherapy – reduced pain and soreness from exercise – far surpassed the outcomes experienced by the untreated control group.
Cryotherapy benefits: Celebrity case studies
Given the numerous benefits of cryotherapy, it’s no surprise that Hollywood stars and world-class athletes have embraced the treatment as a cure-all of health and recovery. Boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is a celebrity spokesperson for a well-known cryotherapy clinic in Las Vegas. Mayweather reportedly became a fan of cryotherapy when he used it to treat pain in his hands, elbows and back. With cryotherapy, Mayweather’s aches and pains disappeared for up to three days post-treatment, providing relief he’d not been able to obtain through traditional methods. Basketball star LeBron James is also a vocal advocate of cryotherapy, as is light-heavyweight boxer Dmitry Bivol, who used cryotherapy to prepare for his fight against world-class fighter Sullivan Barrera. Bivol reportedly told Men’s Health magazine that cryotherapy bolstered his training regimen by expediting recovery and healing.
Getting started with cryotherapy
To get started enjoying cryotherapy benefits for yourself, first obtain clearance from your healthcare provider. Find a reputable cryotherapy facility affiliated with a sports medicine center. Be sure staff understands your medical history and remains closeby during your treatment. Dress appropriately by wearing dry socks, gloves and protective clothing to prevent frostbite. With proper precautions and the support of highly qualified professionals, you’ll likely enjoy the outcomes of this remarkable health-enhancing treatment.