• Cryotherapy
  • Health

Rapid Treatment, Rapid Recovery: The Science Behind Cryotherapy

Discover the benefits of whole-body cryotherapy. Scientific studies have shown how it can improve energy, well-being and mood.

Whole Body Cryotherapy

Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) involves brief exposure to extremely cold air (-240°F). Traditionally, cryotherapy has been applied using ice packs or baths to enhance recovery and reduce inflammation. Originally developed to help treat chronic medical conditions, over the last few years there has been a large increase in the use of WBC by professional athletes, typically within 24 hours after training or exercise.

WBC is becoming increasingly more accessible to the public. Used frequently by the top athletes in the world such as LeBron James and Usain Bolt, cryotherapy is quickly becoming the top treatment choice for pain and muscle recovery.

How it Works

During the three-minute session, the body is submerged in cold air from the neck down. The below-freezing temperatures force the blood to circulate towards the body’s core, keeping it warm as it enters ‘survival mode’. This triggers the body’s natural healing processes. After the session, blood flows back through the body free of toxins, distributing a supply of fresh oxygen, enzymes and nutrients. This will leave the body feeling energized and refreshed, as a new wave of cleansed blood rushes through.

The Science

A study done on 11 professional field hockey players who underwent WBC treatments twice a day for 18 days showed a reduction of hemolysis (the destruction of red blood cells), which usually accompanies physical exercise, helping lower the possibility of sports anemia. Another study done also shows that WBC is an immunostimulant and induces an increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines. Cold shock does trigger an increase in noradrenaline, which helps with conditions like inflammation, chronic pain, arthritis, mood and depression.

Sources:

Banfi, G. et al. (2010). Whole-Body Cryotherapy in Athletes.

Patrick, R. P., Cold Shocking the Body: Exploring Cryotherapy, Cold-Water Immersion, and Cold Stress.