5 questions about cryotherapy
5 questions about cryotherapy
Extreme cold as a panacea for pain and skin conditions. Better sports performance by exposing yourself to temperatures well below freezing. Does that sound promising? Or do you think: I haven’t seen myself, I don’t like the cold.
Top athletes in particular do everything they can to recover quickly so that they can perform again the next day. But you and I can also undergo cryotherapy. Why should we do that? You can read that in this article.
What is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a treatment in which you are briefly exposed to extremely cold air. Think of temperatures from -44 ° C to -124 ° C. This is done with the help of liquid nitrogen.
Maybe you have known it for a while or you have never heard of it. Cryotherapy, however, was already invented in 1978 by the Japanese Toshima Yamauchi. Toshima was a doctor who researched rheumatism.
Toshima successfully treated arthritis with cryotherapy. He did this by cooling the skin to a temperature of -1 ° C in a very short time. This worked better than slow cooling, reaching a skin temperature of 5 ° C.
At first only small parts of the body were cooled. There are now cabins and entire spaces where you can enter. That is why you often see the abbreviation ‘WBC’, or whole-body cryotherapy.
How does cryotherapy work?
When you get into the cabin, the temperature of your skin drops below zero very quickly. Your body responds to that. The skin sends signals to the brain. The scenario ‘extreme cold’ is activated, as it were.
The brain then sends signals to the blood vessels that run to the muscles and tissues. These blood vessels constrict, so that less heat is lost there. But especially so that more blood goes to the organs.
The narrowing of blood vessels causes higher blood pressure. And the composition of the blood changes. To survive, more white blood cells, oxygen, enzymes and nutrients enter the blood.
When the cold has passed, that enriched blood can also flow to the rest of the body. This stimulates cell renewal. With a load of new, healthy cells, recovery, pain relief and other benefits start.
What is cryotherapy good for?
What are the cold, changing blood and narrowed blood vessels good for? There are several benefits of cryotherapy. These are the main ones:
- Improves metabolism
- Accelerates muscle recovery
- Reduces Pain
- Improve skin conditions
- Good for your brain
Can you lose weight from cryotherapy alone? No. But it can help. Namely, it speeds up the metabolism. Whether that is just for a moment or all day, the scientists are not entirely in agreement.
The theory is that your body is trying to keep warm. That costs energy and so you burn more. That effect would continue thereafter. If you do cryotherapy more often, the metabolism would even be permanently higher than before.
Another reason why cryotherapy could help with weight loss is that you recover faster and therefore can exercise more quickly. The frequency or effort with which you exercise can increase, so you burn more calories.
The main reason cryotherapy has gained popularity is because of its use in top sports. Cryotherapy ensures that your body recovers faster from exercise. And so it can also deliver a top performance faster.
The blood with the white blood cells, oxygen and nutrients also goes to the muscles. Muscles that are damaged after training or competition get an extra boost and can recover faster. So less muscle pain!
Cryotherapy is actually an ice pack 2.0. By using ice compresses you stimulated the blood flow to a specific place. That also resulted in better recovery and less pain.
Not only can cryotherapy reduce muscle pain. It also provides relief for those with more serious conditions. For example for people with osteoarthritis and rheumatism.
The inflammation in the body is inhibited. You also produce endorphins and serotonin that have a pain-relieving effect. Do you think it can help you? Always discuss this with your doctor first. Especially when you suffer from high blood pressure, for example.
Improves skin conditions
Cryotherapy stimulates collagen production. In an earlier article about collagen, you can read what collagen is good for. You know it mainly from the commercials on TV about skin products. And that’s right, because it plays an important role in the condition of your skin.
The extra collagen that the body produces can ensure less skin aging and fewer wrinkles. In combination with its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, it could help with eczema, acne and psoriasis.
Good for the brain
You probably won’t immediately think of your brain when it comes to cryotherapy, but there are quite a few benefits for the brain. One that applies to everyone is that it improves your mood and focus.
The cold produces noradrenaline, which is related to adrenaline. When you have too little norepinephrine, you can feel depressed. An extra boost can therefore provide a boost. However, too much norepinephrine can make you feel tense and scared.
There is also a theory that it can help prevent dementia. This is due to a combination of factors, such as anti-inflammatory activity and the increase in oxygen in the blood. However, little research has been done on this.
Is Cryotherapy Dangerous?
After all those benefits, you will probably wonder: is there a catch? What are the risks? We can reassure you. Cryotherapy is a safe treatment. So you don’t run any risks if you follow all instructions properly.
Before you can enter the cabin, you will have to take everything off and not forget any jewelry. Only a bikini and the things you have to wear, such as gloves, ear muffs, slippers and a mouth mask.
A session does not last very long, but 3 minutes. You can also stop at any time if you feel uncomfortable. During the entire session, someone will be ‘with you’ from another room. So if there is something, you can indicate it immediately.
But not for everyone
So anyone can take cryotherapy? No Unfortunately not. As you have read, it causes increased blood pressure. If you are someone who already has problems with that, then it is better not to do this.
Cryotherapy is also not suitable for people with blood disorders, cardiovascular disease, thrombosis, pregnancy and other serious conditions. So when in doubt, always see a doctor before entering this cold cabin.
Can’t I just take an ice bath?
Why pay money for an icy cabin, when you can lie down in a cold bath yourself. Unfortunately, it does not have the same effect. Ice baths are also regularly used in sports. But unfortunately, its effect is slightly different.
After an ice bath, your muscles will temporarily lose some strength. During that period they can recover well, but you cannot train immediately. Take a day of rest to allow the effect of the ice bath to work properly. You can continue immediately after cryotherapy.