Most people don’t think about pain relief or weight loss when they consider cryotherapy, but the process has been shown to provide both, as well as improve recovery time from injuries and boost the overall quality of life. This article will explain what cryotherapy is and how it can provide these benefits to you.
What is Cryotherapy
Briefly, cryotherapy refers to rapid cooling of a part of your body in order to relieve pain or inflammation. The most common application is icing an injured area to reduce swelling and promote healing.
Cryotherapy, however, has grown as a trend in recent years because some believe that cold temperatures stimulate metabolism. In fact, there are even cryo-spas where people go for treatment meant to deliver weight loss or help with other health issues by raising your body temperature (often through saunas). The jury’s still out on whether or not cryo can actually help you lose weight. If you’re curious about trying it out, though, here’s a bit more info about how it works—and how much it costs!
How does it help
Cold therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation, which eases chronic pain, speeds healing and reduces swelling.
How does it work? Most athletes will tell you that after a post-workout ice bath they felt better than they had before their workout. That’s because cold causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing swelling throughout your body.
Another benefit of using cryotherapy is that it forces your body to release stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine (aka adrenaline). These hormones are known to increase inflammation, leading to pain symptoms like headaches or muscle soreness.
Cold therapy also has been linked with improving metabolism by increasing brown fat — a type of fat tissue in our bodies that burns calories faster than regular white fat — while reducing belly fat deposits.
Weight loss benefits
While I’m not sure about any miracle weight loss cure, cryotherapy definitely has been proven to provide some weight loss benefits. Studies show that consistent sessions in cryochambers may help with muscle recovery by reducing inflammation in soft tissue around joints and speeding up metabolism.
Another cool benefit of cryo chambers is their ability to flush harmful toxins from our bodies. When you hop inside a chamber, your body’s core temperature drops as low as -240 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s colder than liquid nitrogen!), which tricks your body into thinking that you are freezing to death—forcing it to kick into survival mode and rush oxygen-rich blood through cells, tissues, organs, and extremities.
Pain relief benefits
Most people first use cryotherapy to relieve minor aches and pains, such as those related to arthritis or sore muscles. Because cryotherapy sends blood rushing to your skin, it can help ease swelling in hard-to-reach places (like your knees) as well.
Also, since exposure to extreme cold causes constriction of blood vessels, you’ll see reduced redness associated with conditions like rosacea or acne when you have a cryo treatment.
In addition, some studies suggest that short exposures (lasting less than a minute) help relieve pain by stimulating your body’s production of endorphins.
Is it right for you
Despite its growing popularity, not much is known about cryotherapy. In part, that’s because there are very few clinical studies on its effectiveness or risks. Most of what we know about cryotherapy comes from anecdotal evidence and small studies. The bottom line? You might want to save your money when considering cryotherapy—at least until more research comes out that confirms or rejects any potential benefits. Until then, try sticking with pain relievers (acetaminophen/Tylenol) instead; they may help you feel better faster while posing less of a risk than prolonged exposure to extreme cold temperatures.
Cryotherapy has been used in medicine to treat wounds, relieve pain, reduce inflammation and swelling as well as speed up recovery time. The procedure itself involves standing in a chamber that is kept at temperatures below -100 degrees Fahrenheit (-75 degrees Celsius) for 3-4 minutes. The therapy has also gained popularity with athletes who want to speed up their recovery time after workouts.
However, cryotherapy hasn’t been fully studied so there are many unknowns about how effective it really is. It’s also not without risks such as burning your skin or even frostbite if you stand too long in the freezing air before getting out of the chamber. Additionally, there are very few studies on how repeated sessions of cryotherapy affect people over an extended period of time.
If you were considering trying cryotherapy for weight loss, there are better strategies to achieve your goals than this procedure. Learn how to to lose weight and keep it off using the Nutrition2change weight management and nutrition course.