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Cryotherapy & Your Ordinary Ice Bath

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Ice baths have been used for decades as a way to rehabilitate and recover from injuries in athletes, professionals, and anyone suffering from pain, inflammation, and damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments or soft tissue. We subject ourselves to frigid waters in hopes of recovering quicker.

The most prominent difference between cryotherapy chambers and ice baths is that during the first 20 minutes of using an ice bath, soft tissue and muscle located fairly deep in the body begin to freeze and in return lose their capacity. Muscle is unique in its function in that it needs a specific amount of time to recover back to 100% capacity after strenuous use. Not only that but, after an ice bath, the individual must continue to rest and cannot return to activity until the next day at the earliest.

Cryotherapy is totally different in this regard. Treatment in a cryotherapy chamber does not actually freeze the muscle tissue — it actually is the perception of freezing by the body’s nervous system. A process that would take multiple sessions of 30 minutes or more to achieve in an ice bath takes only 2 to 3 minutes in cryotherapy treatment. Better yet, athletes can return to activity the SAME DAY as receiving treatment!

The body’s reaction to the ultra-cool temperatures during cryotherapy is a completely different physiological reaction compared to that of an ice bath. During submersion in an ice bath, the body is faced with the unrelenting process of warming the blood in the body’s core back to normal temperature. This takes an immense amount of energy that the body struggles with. And, once the body is no longer able to warm the blood, the muscles begin to congeal and freeze, which can eventually cause hypothermia and even death, as it is difficult to stop the process once started.

Cryotherapy uses ultra-cool temperatures to create the sensation that the body is in a sub-zero potentially dangerous environment that signals an entire brain and central nervous system response. When thermo-receptors in the dermis of the skin receive the signaling from the cooled environment, the brain and central nervous system send out a system-wide message telling the body to vasoconstrict, which in turn sends all the blood from the periphery of the body to the vital organs in the core of the body. This blood undergoes a process that increases the oxygen and nutrients within the blood and also detoxifies and breaks down harmful byproducts within the blood in an attempt to supply the vital organs with the most oxygen and nutrient-rich environment to survive. Once the cryotherapy treatment is completed after 3 to 5 minutes, the individual exits the chamber, and the body immediately senses the return to normal temperature.

Additionally, due to the wet cold recovery time is needed after an ice bath to allow muscles to return to normal functionality. Ice baths must always be scheduled at the end of a workout or participation in sport whereas cryotherapy can be used before or after as a means to promote performance pre-workout and aid in recovery post-workout.

  • Cryotherapy takes only 3-5 minutes vs an ice bath which can take anywhere from 15-20.

  • Cryotherapy uses dry cold to reduce the skin’s temperature while an ice bath uses wet cold which can cause muscle tissue to congeal making them pretty immobile.

As you can see from this article, cryotherapy is far superior to the outdated ice bath method. CryoBuilt is the largest manufacturer of electric whole body cryotherapy systems in the USA. Order EVEREST Now! EVEREST is the newest line of cutting edge fully electric cryotherapy systems from CryoBuilt.

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