You may have seen athletes in a locker room after an intense training session or sporting event sitting in a big tub of ice water and thought, “What the heck is that about?” Believe it or not there is a very good reason why they are sitting in that near freezing tub of water. It is called cryotherapy.
Cryotherapy is used for faster recovery time after a strenuous workout and activity. Most people know that the go to for sore muscles and reduction of swelling from an injury is ice. This is the mindset behind cryotherapy, just on a bigger scale (and with the whole body). Cryotherapy is also done these days in chambers using cold gas instead of sitting in a tub of ice cold water which has shown better results in a shorter amount of time. This is the form of cryotherapy that most people prefer over sitting in ice water for 10-20 minutes.
When a person steps out of the ice water or gets out of the cold gas chamber and their core temperature begins to rise back up, blood circulation is increased tremendously which contributes to soreness relief and recovery.
The following are noted and proven benefits of cryotherapy:
- Whole body cryotherapy can reduce inflammation and restore functional capacity of muscles after strenuous exercise.
- Whole body cryotherapy helps promotes recovery because the dropping of the body’s core temperature leads to vasoconstriction (shrinking) of blood vessels. For survival, the body will maintain blood in all the core region organs. When the cold is removed the heart will then pump blood back out to all the extremities, which helps in bringing back nutrients and oxygen and helps repair all the damaged tissues.
- Whole body cryotherapy helps initiate the body’s sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight or flight response. This helps prompt the release of epinephrine and adrenaline to accelerate heart rate which in return causes blood flow to be accelerated to the extremities.
- Whole body cryotherapy also assists with people who are dealing with arthritis and musculoskeletal pain.
Cryotherapy is not for everyone but can help anyone. What that means is a person must go off their comfortability and tolerance levels. Some people can tolerate cold temperatures better than others. Find out what you can tolerate before diving on into a tub of ice water or going into a chamber of ice cold gas.