“Follow the science” became a mantra for many in the early 2020s as we scrambled to find solutions to safeguard our health. But science is a process of discovery that never sits still, and scientists are continually challenging long-held hypotheses with new data.
Cryotherapy has been used for centuries to promote health and healing. Today, new technology has scientists revisiting the topic of cryotherapy for health, beauty and athletic performance. Check out the latest research on the health benefits of cryotherapy.
How Does Cryotherapy Work?
For centuries, healers depended on cold water, snow and ice to leverage the health benefits of cryotherapy. Even in the 21st Century, ice baths and cold compresses are still used by athletes to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and promote soft tissue recovery. But new technology has emerged that dramatically reduces the duration and discomfort of cryotherapy, while optimizing its benefits.
There are fundamentally two options for harnessing cryotherapy benefits. Both use liquid nitrogen gas to dramatically chill the surrounding environment to sub-zero temperatures ranging from -110º to -190º C:
- Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) takes place in a cryo chamber, a whole body enclosure where only the head and neck are outside the chamber. The hands and feet are protected from frostbite with gloves and socks. The skin should be completely dry, to prevent frostbite.
- Localized cryotherapy is performed by a clinician using a wand-like device. The wand delivers a targeted stream of liquid nitrogen to the skin to promote healing of sore, injured or damaged tissues. Localized cryotherapy is also used as a beauty treatment during a CryoFacial.
Typical cold exposure time is 1.5 to 3 minutes. During that short timespan, the superficial skin temperature drops to around 10º C, triggering a healing response from the body’s innate immune mechanisms. In addition, cryotherapy stimulates the release of endorphins, reducing pain and imparting a sense of wellbeing.
10 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Cryotherapy
Understanding the makeup of muscle fibers can help you develop an effective training and nutrition program that yields optimal results. Every muscle fiber is a single cell, with a complex network of micro structures, driven by a coordinated series of chemical interactions.
1. Supports post-exercise recovery and strength gains
There are a plethora of benefits of cryotherapy for athletes and physically active people. Cryotherapy has been found to accelerate recovery between exercise bouts, and enhance strength gains from resistance training. To maximize cryotherapy benefits, hit the cryo chamber as soon as possible after your workout or event, preferably within two hours.
2. Offers widespread applications for dermatology procedures
Dermatologists treat a broad range of skin conditions, from adolescent acne, to warts, ulcers, scars and lesions of varying degrees of severity. Localized cryotherapy is growing in popularity among dermatologists for its fast, non-invasive and effective results in treating skin disorders.
3. Improves cognitive performance and reduces depression in older adults
Extended longevity and life expectancy driven by medical interventions has led to increased numbers of older people around the world, but cognitive impairment and depression are common among older adults. Whole body cryotherapy shows promise as a treatment for improving mood and cognitive performance in older adults, when used in conjunction with cognitive training.
4. Diminishes negative side effects of cancer treatments
Chemotherapy is often an integral part of cancer treatment protocols, but its side effects can be deadly. One common side effect of chemo is oral mucositis (OM), a condition that causes painful lesions in the mouth and throat. Researchers have discovered that cooling the oral mucosa with cryotherapy both during and after chemotherapy significantly reduces OM and also reduces the patient’s use of narcotic pain meds post-chemo.
5. Reduces pain and inflammation in knee osteoarthritis (OA)
People suffering from knee osteoarthritis often experience a diminished quality of life. One new study used laboratory mice with knee OA to see whether cryotherapy would make a difference. The researchers found that cryotherapy significantly reduced inflammation, pain, and swelling, and improved balance and motor coordination in mice with knee OA.
6. Aids in fat loss
Obesity is rampant in modern Western countries, and many people struggle to manage their weight and reduce unwanted body fat. Research shows that subjecting adipose tissue to extremely low temperatures via cryotherapy results in the loss of adipocytes without damaging surrounding tissues.
7. Restores elastic properties in the collagen matrix
Collagen fibers make up a significant portion of connective tissues and fascia. They give skin its elastic properties to prevent wrinkles, and they make it possible for fibrous tissues throughout the body to stretch and return to their original length during movement. When collagen fibers degrade and lose their elasticity, pain and disability often ensue. Cryotherapy helps to restore elasticity to collagenous structures, and to increase the thickness of joint cartilage.
8. Shrinks cancerous tumors
Cryotherapy is becoming a treatment of choice for musculoskeletal tumors and bone lesions in cancer patients. Cryotherapy is increasingly being used as an alternative to radiation therapy. Scientists affirm that cryotherapy guided by ultrasound imaging is safe and effective for treating both benign and malignant musculoskeletal tumors.
9. Improves blood lipid profile and reduces oxidative stress
High triglyceride levels and oxidative stress are associated with metabolic disorders that can be life-threatening. New research reveals that whole body cryotherapy in a closed cryo chamber helps to improve the blood lipid profile of healthy adults while reducing oxidative stress.
10. Reduces menstrual pain and improves daily living in young women
Many women suffer monthly cramping, sleep disruptions and general malaise during their monthly period. A recent study explored the efficacy of whole body cryotherapy for alleviating pain and improving quality of life in young menstruating women. They found that WBC was effective in reducing pain and diminishing sleep disruptions in study participants.
Contraindications for Cryotherapy
Despite its many benefits, cryotherapy is not a good choice for everyone. You should steer clear of cryotherapy if you have any of the following conditions:
- Blood clots or heart disease
- Seizure disorders
- Kidney or urinary tract infections
- Open wounds and/or ulcers
- Intoxication from alcohol or drugs
- Wet skin (can cause frostbite)
- Raynaud Disease
If you have had one or more experimental mRNA gene therapy injections, you should consult with your physician prior to trying cryotherapy.
Get Whole Body and Localized Cryotherapy Benefits in NYC
Whether you live and work in Manhattan or you’re just visiting NYC, you can leverage the health benefits of cryotherapy at InVita Wellness on Broadway. In addition to whole body and localized cryotherapy, we offer CryoFacial, a beauty treatment that fuses the pampering of a conventional facial with the benefits of cryotherapy. Contact InVita Wellness today, and get the coolest cryotherapy benefits in NYC.
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