Cryotherapy for Martial Arts
To Say we’re Excited to Write an Article on Martial Arts is an Understatement. It’s hard to Think of any other Sport than can Benefit more from the use of Cryotherapy than Mixed Martial Arts/Boxing.
Fortunately, UFC & Fighters alike have been quick to learn this as well
To Keep things simple we’re going to break it down into 4 Main Benefits
- 1. Mental Health (Reducing Concussions)
- 2. Recovering Faster
- 3. Cutting Weight
- 4. More Energy
Possible 5th?: Better Training
During Cryotherapy a signal is sent from your skin to your brain, alerting it of the extreme temperatures, it reacts by secreting 3x-5x’s the normal amount of Norepinephrine into the brain and body, so basically, a kind of adrenaline spike
This Hormone and others play key roles in activating survival mechanisms such as a heightened metabolism, or pulling blood to your core in order to protect the internal organs.
These Basic workings then set off smaller chain reactions working in a myriad of ways in which we’ll discuss below (Don’t worry, we keep it interesting)
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1. Mental Health (Reducing Concussions)
Norepinephrine, sometimes referred to as Nor-adrenaline, is a kind of stress / Adrenaline Hormone
Low amount of Norepinephrine are also linked with Depression though, and even better – This Hormone actually helps reconnect lost memories, as Norepinephrine helps learning, enhances the formation and retrieval of memory, and can play a part in mitigating & recovering from Concussions and head injuries.
We believe this is a major reason why the UFC and NFL (NFL teams even uses Local Cryotherapy units on the sidelines) have adopted its use so heavily, and why it’s forcasted to grow 12% or more next year. It’s hard to imagine what sports outside of Football & Martial Arts that could better reap the rewards of Norepinephrine considering the continuous impact on the head.
It also improves Focus and Attention, promotes alertness, vigilance, & helps reduce stress and promote goal oriented activities.
San Diego Cryotherapy: Is Cryotherapy the new solution to treat Concussions?
2. Recovering Faster / Pain Relief
How often do you think people get out of some Martial Arts spar, and realize they actually hurt something, like something’s pulled, or maybe their wrist or fingers bent wrong, or they distributed weight on something in a weird way and now it’s swelling up?
Well as we Stated earlier, While in the Cryo chamber your body is exposed to -300 F Temperatures, this shocks your body into releasing multiple Hormones Like Norepinephrine and Insulin.
These Hormones Effect your Ability to Recover, and Prevent pain in several ways
Mainly though the bodies reaction to Norepinephrine, which causes Vasoconstriction – which is the Narrowing of Veins to restrict blood flow to the extremities, pulling the majority of your blood to your core, and with it all the chemicals causing pain.
This makes Vasoconstriction (Norepinephrine) a Potent Anti-Inflammatory.
This is a natural defense mechanism to cold – the body will sacrifice the extremities (fingers, toes, ears) in order to keep the internal organs functioning, this is why frostbite happens, and it’s also why you’re required to wear the Special Gloves and Shoes we provide.
Vasoconstriction is important because it reduces inflammation in your body, which has a multitude of harmful (and of course some beneficial in smaller amounts) effects on all parts of your body – Brain, Skin, Cardiovascular, Kidneys, Bones, Liver, Thyroid, Lungs, GI Track, and of course, Muscles.
The Production of Norepinephrine also inhibits the production of TnF Alpha signals – which signal to your immune system to make hypochlorite, which is kind of like a bleach, or acid that your body produces to kill infections, it’s known to cause tissue damage and pain, and isn’t really a bad thing until it’s there in excess, or for excessive periods of time. Sometimes injuries can even swell up to much and cause veins to pop.
Cryotherapy has also been shown to double the amount of Glutathione in your body, which is comprised of 3 protein blocks/amino acids, Cysteine, Gludamine, and Glycine. Glutathione helps inflammation, prevents cellular damage, and acts as an anti-oxidant to neutralize free radicals
Further more Cryotherapy inhibits colleganza which break down collagen, muscles, and tendons, and can cause arthritic pain.
3. Cutting Weight
When Martial Arts Competitions are coming, you gotta make weight, and cryotherapy can actually make quite the impact.
Again we have to refer to Norepinephrine, as it plays a vital role in the activation of your metabolism – by sending a signal to UCP1.
UCP1 uncouples the Positive/Negative Charge that Mitochondria have.
This leaves your body thinking you have no energy, it reacts by creating more mitochondria.
Mitochondria turns calories from food into heat.
10-20 Cryotherapy Sessions can increase mitochondria by 38% or more.
It’s a natural adaptation of the body to the cold – everywhere that’s cold people have increased amounts of brown fat – especially those who spend time outside.
Shivering, which is just a contraction of your muscles also produces heat, but it’s less efficient than your metabolism, and burns a lot more calories without producing as much heat. Because of this your body eventually switches purely to metabolic warmth.
This increases your resting calorie expenditure, and has some other interesting benefits we’ll talk about again in the next section.
In close, Cryotherapy also cools your skin to as cold as 32 F, and pierces anywhere from 1/8-1/5th of your skin.
It takes roughly 75-90 minutes to warm back up after a Session
From the moment you enter the chamber, to the moment your fully warmed up 75-90 minutes later, you will have burned between 500-800 calories warming yourself back up, the equivalent of running a mile on a treadmill, it’s just under a 3rd of a pound.
If you’re interested in reading more check out 3 ways Cryotherapy helps Weight Loss
4. More Energy
Mitochondria, and Norepinephrine.
These 2 both play factors in areas of energy and focus.
Norepinephrine specifically improves Focus and Attention, promotes alertness, vigilance, & helps reduce stress and promote goal oriented activities
(and as we mentioned earlier helps with concussions and memory)
Mitochondria has the immediate benefit of being able to break down fat during Cryotherapy and turn it into energy/heat. All the activity and excess energy being burned is going to make you feel more alert.
Cooler than that though – is the fact that each time you do cryotherapy your mitochondria increases, and this means you’ll have more mitochondria dense “Brown Fats” (which get their color from being mitchondria dense – because mitochondria are dense in iron and have a more brown color).
Brown Fats are used in situations like cryotherapy, where you need a lot of energy quickly.. Fight or Flight.
Therefore in the heat of any Martial Arts Competition you’ll have more mitochondira aka readily digestible brown fat than you otherwise would, helping supply you with large amounts of energy.
Possible 5th: Better Training (Conclusion)
What if you felt great every single day, how do you think it would effect your Martial Arts training?
Things like Faster recovery, more energy, and concussion mitigation can help keep you in the gym longer, and smarter too, ensuring you’re able to get the most out of everyday.
This is especially important when you’re training seriously or looking to compete – as working out 5-7 times a week can leave your body exhausted, and it may not always have a chance to heal over the course of rest days.
Sometimes is might not be able to heal for weeks at a time if you’re not careful and taking off the extra days you some times need to.
These extended training sessions can actually have the opposite effect on your body, eroding it down rather than strengthening it.
This is why it’s important to take time to recover, and when things get overly inflamed, or have been inflamed for too long, that you take steps to heal.
And Remember that Cryotherapy is best used in conjunction with Chiropractors, deep tissue massages, foam rolling, and other proven methods of speeding recovery.