The kids are in school, you have the afternoon to yourself, and it’s all about pampering at this point. You consider what you want to spend your time doing. Should you consider a massage? A leisurely stroll through a bookstore with your favorite pumpkin latte in hand? How about a late lunch with an old friend that you have not seen in a while?
Or how about something completely new? Have you considered cryotherapy to refresh and rejuvenate yourself? For most people, the thought of plunging yourself into below-zero temperatures and frigid air that makes shivering downright painful makes them want to seek out a warm place to cower. How can cryotherapy be relaxing, let alone beneficial?
Whole-body cryotherapy is one of the latest fads in the health and wellness world, and loyal followers cite its many benefits, including a reduction in pain, improving muscle strength and recovery, and improved circulation. Does it work? Should you give it a go? Here is what you need to know before you pay someone to plunge you deep into an icy tub:
What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is “cold therapy” for the skin and body. This therapy involves exposing the patient to extremely cold temperatures (between -100 and -140 degrees Celsius) for two to five minutes. Cryotherapy was developed to treat all kinds of conditions—chronic pain, inflammation, and musculoskeletal disorders. With added benefits being discovered almost by accident, the use of cryotherapy has now extended beyond its initial uses. It is not uncommon for cryotherapy to be used for treating skin conditions, or even to stimulate weight loss.
While common sense tells you that standing in such frigid temperatures, even for a short time, can quickly result in damage to tissues, you are really only scratching the surface with this extreme cold. It’s what is going inside the body that really counts.
During a cryotherapy session, your outer layer of skin is quickly freezing, and it’s sending messages via receptors in the skin to put the body into “defense” mode. During this time, your brain is sending signals to protect your vital organs by providing excess blood, nutrients, and oxygen to your core. This oxygenation process allows your body to flush and dump toxins, cleansing your body of harmful irritants.
Once you return to normal temperatures, your body will again start circulating blood throughout your body as it normally does, sending this revitalized blood back out to all systems in the body, flooding everything from head to toe with vital nutrients. The use of temperature fluctuation activates the body’s own healing properties—reducing inflammation, eliminating swelling, increasing your metabolism, reducing cellulite, speeding muscle recovery, and much much more.
Other applications of cryotherapy are now used to promote fat freezing and fast weight loss. The cyroskin procedure simultaneously freezes subcutaneous fat while improving the look and feel of skin. Patients who try the cyroskin procedure (check here) note dramatic inch loss within a very short time, and continued use of this therapy is making it more affordable for those wishing to take advantage of a weight-loss shortcut. With innovations like this on the horizon, premium health and beauty seem to be within reach of almost everyone.
What cryotherapy feels like
Cryotherapy is done in a special chamber called a cryosauna. They resemble upright tanning beds with open tops. When receiving a treatment, you stand inside the chamber with your head rising above the walls as frigid air flows around your body. It is advised that patients wear gloves, socks, and shoes to prevent frostbite from occurring. The sensation of a cryotherapy session can be likened to rolling around in the snow naked. It is not reported to be painful, and a specialist is nearby during the whole procedure. You will feel a pins and needles sensation that dissipates as soon as you step out of the chamber. While uncomfortable, it is not painful.
Many patients report a feeling of enhanced mental clarity and whole-body relaxation, much like a massage without the accompanying soreness. An added and somewhat welcome side effect of cryotherapy is the need for extra-deep rest. Many people report the best sleep of their lives after cryotherapy treatment.
Benefits of cryotherapy
Cryotherapy’s benefits are long-reaching, helping to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms and provide relief from several chronic conditions. Other benefits from cryotherapy use include:
- A reduction in migraine symptoms. It helps to reduce symptoms by cooling and numbing nerves in the neck area. The intracranial vessels that are connected to the neck, when cooled, provide a welcome relief from all types of headache pain.
- A reduction in nerve irritation. Many athletes have been using cryotherapy for years to treat injuries–it can sufficiently numb pain and help to speed the healing process.
- Helping to treat mood disorders. Ultra-cold temperatures during therapy can cause physiological hormonal responses. The release of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and endorphins have a positive, calming effect on those who experience mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
- A reduction in arthritic pain. Studies have shown that whole-body cryotherapy significantly reduces pain for people with arthritis. Resulting numbness allows for more aggressive forms of physiotherapy and occupational therapy, making many rehabilitation programs more effective.
- Helping to treat low-risk tumors. Targeted cryotherapy has been used as an effective cancer treatment. It works by freezing cancer cells and surrounding them with ice crystals, rendering them inactive.
- Helping to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
There are exciting theories circulating around that point to cryotherapy as an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. The anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of this therapy could combat inflammation and oxidative stress that contribute to the development of these conditions.
- Effective in treating skin conditions and combating the signs of aging. Cryotherapy is known to improve antioxidant levels in the blood that reduce inflammation in the skin. Fine lines and wrinkles are reduced through the stimulation of collagen, inflammatory conditions like dermatitis and eczema are reduced, and the skin takes on a healthy, youthful appearance.
Considering cryotherapy? Know what to look for
When considering this therapy, it’s important to note that cryotherapy comes with risks as well as benefits. Choosing a licensed cryotherapist is essential to prevent illness and injury that might result from improper use of equipment or excessive exposure to unsafe temperatures. Do your homework, a bit of investigative research into the clinic that you are considering, and find out if they have proper licensure and history of patient safety and satisfaction. When your safety and your health are at risk, you can’t be too careful.
Regardless of your health condition, you owe it to yourself to check out the many benefits that you can gain from cryotherapy. Look forward to better health and improved energy overall.