Have you heard of Cryotherapy?!
Cryotherapy is a hot trend that has a cult following in the recovery, wellness, and beauty industries. You may have heard people talking about it or seen celebrities or athletes posting themselves coming out of icy cold chambers on social media, but what is Cryotherapy and why is everyone talking about it?
At its most basic form, Cryotherapy is simply the use of cold temperatures to heal the body. Using the cold to help our bodies recover from injury, inflammation, soreness, or for relaxation has been used since the beginning of time. Putting ice on a wound or bruise, jumping in a cold lake, or taking an ice bath are all forms of basic cryotherapy. All of these methods cause stagnant blood to start moving again, promoting new blood flow which brings healing. It is a very basic, well understood principle that has been widely accepted and used as a means of after the fact recovery but can be quite uncomfortable, inconvenient, and extremely inefficient compared to modern day cryotherapy through the use of cryotherapy chambers
Modern day cryotherapy
Modern day cryotherapy lends from past modalities of cold to provide a much more comfortable, convenient, and effective form of recovery through the use of cryotherapy chambers. Cryotherapy chambers provide a quick, 2-3 minute private session of whole body exposure to extreme low temperatures in a dry, contained, breathable air environment. Add in some music, colorful lights, and awesome fog from the cold, and it becomes a fun experience that completely distracts from how cold you just got!
But what does it do?
The goal of true whole body cryotherapy is to expose as much skin as possible to temperatures of -166F or below for a short period of time (2-3 minutes) to create a drop in the external skin temperature of 30-40 degrees. The best way to measure this is to use an infrared temperature device before and after the session on the back of the upper arm, measuring the delta between two temperature readings. The results are illustrated in this thermographic image below that shows the outer skin temperature dropping while the core temperature remains intact.
Effects of Whole Body Cryotherapy on the body
Blood rushing to the core is our body's natural way of protecting our core organs from extreme cold. When exposed to extreme cold temperatures, blood rushes from our extremities to our core, creating a systemic response throughout the body that produces a myriad of benefits. As mentioned above, cold promotes increased blood flow which brings fresh, oxygenated blood full of white blood cells to areas of the body that need it.
What happens in Vagus, happens everywhere!
Whole body cryotherapy amplifies these positive effects and adds many more incredible benefits by activating the vagus nerve and causing vasoconstriction and vasodilation. The vagus nerve is responsible for the regulation of internal organ functions [NCBI]. The vagus nerve is activated by cold on the back of the neck and touches every major organ in the body.
Should I be doing Whole Body Cryotherapy?
Whole Body Cryotherapy is not just for extreme athletes or those with present injuries either. Best practice is for healthy, normal adults (and minors with doctors note) to practice whole body cryotherapy 3-5 times per week on a regular basis. It is important to maintain a constant regimen of cryotherapy and not just use it when you feel you need it or are injured as it is a continual recovery modality that helps the body stay healthy and even resist injuries and illness.
Yes, whole body cryotherapy has been shown to strengthen the body's immune system and fight against viruses by increased white blood cell count throughout the body! That topic alone calls for an article of its own!
OK, I'm in! Where can I find it?!
Whole body cryotherapy can be found across the united states. The best form is a walk-in chamber that is fully enclosed and exposures your entire body, including your head to the cold. For a listing of a whole body cryotherapy system near you, check this link below!
Author - Marcus Wilson, CEO CryoBuilt