For me, I didn’t realise the benefits of Cryotherapy until, a few years ago, one of my friends who suffers from fibromyalgia, completed a course of localised Cryotherapy. Now she is medication free, uses Cryo to manage her pain (when she has any!) and I can hug her. The change was immense and drove me to learn more about how Cryotherapy works, the reasons to try it and how it can help the body heal from within.
First of all, let me explain how Cryotherapy works.
How does Cryotherapy work?
Cryotherapy can be experienced either via a chamber where you immerse your whole body into the cryogenically cooled air or by focusing the application of cooled air to specific parts of your body – local Cryotherapy. Each therapy has been known to provide benefits to the body in their unique ways and Cryotherapy should always be treated as a component of a therapeutic programme.
During a Cryotherapy session, the low temperature of the cooled air only affects your skin’s surface, triggering your thermoreceptors to send electrical impulses to the brain making you ‘think’ you are freezing. The blood vessels in your skins surface and muscle tissue constrict, forcing blood away from your peripheral tissues towards the organs in the core of your body. In the core, your body’s natural filtration system works to remove toxins and inflammatory properties of the blood.
After the Cryotherapy session has finished, your body starts to warm up, your blood cells expand and cause a significant increase in the blood flow to the extremities. Your blood, which is now enriched with oxygen, enzymes, collagen and other nutrients to a much greater degree than under normal balanced conditions, is dilated and flows back through the body, activating its natural healing abilities.
So let me tell you about 5 benefits (and reasons) to try Cryotherapy…
1. Supports the relief of pain
Prof Toshiro Yamauchi in Japan introduced Whole Body Cryotherapy back in 1970 with the aim to help patients who were suffering with rheumatic disorders. Prof Yamauchi successfully treated patients with rheumatic disorders and found that a rapid decrease in temperature on the outer layer of the skin leads to an immediate release of endorphins causing people to become less sensitive to pain.
The cold is a natural pain suppressant and cryotherapy delivers pain relief to patients by decreasing inflammation, improving antioxidants and increasing beta-endorphins. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Cryotherapy will provide pain relief for long term medical conditions including osteoarthritis, rheumatism and fibromyalgia
A study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine suggested that Cryotherapy should be used as a treatment for fibromyalgia and a team led by researchers at University Reims Champagne Ardenne in France showed that patients who completed Cryotherapy along with physiotherapy recovered much faster than those who didn’t.
2. Aids Health and Wellness
Cryotherapy has long been used in many countries to treat anxiety and depression. The extreme temperatures experienced during a Cryotherapy session trigger physiological hormonal response which includes the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline and endorphins.
These are known to have a positive effect on those who experience mood disorders like anxiety, stress and depression.
A paper, written in Poland in 2007 (1), examined whether short-term exposure to extremely low temperatures could be used as an adjuvant therapy in the treatment of affective and anxiety disorders.
The conclusion was that ‘cyclic short-term whole-body exposure to extremely low temperatures significantly reduced the severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms and increased life satisfaction’
3. Reduces inflammation
During and after exercise, your body’s systems adapt to cope with the increased stresses placed on them. These systems include the muscles, the tissues and the nerves and these stresses may cause muscle soreness which is attributed to small tearing of muscle fibres.
Recovery from soreness or any type of injury may take a long time and traditional treatments include lowering the temperature where the trauma occurred to stem the flow of blood and reduce the amount of inflammation.
Cryotherapy plays a significant role in the treatment of sports traumas. The vapour’s extremely low temperature increases the body’s anti-oxidative status and thanks to the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects on your body, the feeling of pain is decreased which allows more exercise in the rehabilitation programme, leading to a quicker recovery.
4. Helps to boost physical performance
Cryotherapy has been used for a long time now by athletes and professional sports people to help boost their performance.
In addition to aiding the reduction of inflammation and supporting the recovering from injury more quickly, a natural energy boost can occur during and after the cryotherapy session which may also increase energy levels and help individuals recover from fatigue.
This means that a shorter period of rest time may be required in between exercise and can lead to a better physical performance. What was once deemed to be an elite treatment for athletes can now be beneficial as a lifestyle choice.
5. Shown to increase the quality of sleep
Sleeping is a basic human need and is a vital part of the foundation for good health and well-being. Your ability to function and feel well while you are awake depends on whether you’re getting enough sleep and enough of the 2 types of sleep; non- REM which is the deep sleep and REM sleep.
The detrimental effect from too little or a broken night’s sleep are well known. Sleep deficiency, in the longer term, can have a negative impact on health and well-being. Regular poor sleep can even put you at risk of serious medical conditions including obesity, heart disease and diabetes (2).
It has been shown that a series of Cryotherapy treatments can help regulate the sleep cycle and encourage a longer and a better-quality sleep. The increased hormone levels resulting from a cryotherapy treatment have been shown to increase the depth, duration and quality of sleep, with many positive effects on your body’s recovery and mental well-being.
An article published in the European Journal of Sport Science reviewed the effect of whole-body cryotherapy linked to the quality of sleep; the conclusion was that the subjective and objective sleep quality improved.
It is a fascinating subject and if you would like to learn more about the amazing benefits of Cryotherapy or leave any feedback, please get in touch with me on the Contact Me page or give me a ring!
And don’t forget…
“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented that you know, and more capable than you can imagine”. Roy T Bennett
With warmest best wishes,
1. Joanna Rymaszewska, Sylwia Chładzińska-Kiejna, Andrzej Kiejna, Psychiatric Department and Clinic of Medical University in Wrocław (Poland) Leader: prof. A. Kiejna, M.D., PhD.
David Ramsey, Institute of Mathematics, Wrocław University of Technology (Poland) Leader: prof. Z. Olszak, PhD