Cryotherapy is the application of extreme cold (-140 to -300 Degree’s Fahrenheit) to the body for 2-4 minutes, it’s an advanced form of Cold Therapy that was originally introduced to Help Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis & Scoliosis.
Cryotherapy is used to treat a variety of tissue damage, and is widely used to relieve muscle pain, sprains and swelling for soft tissue damage and postoperative swelling.
It’s provided in over 50 European hospitals and medical clinics and it has now been used in many spas, and athletic training facilities as well.
Elite athletes have reported using the treatment to alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise. Reductions in muscle and skin tissue temperature after WBC exposure stimulates cutaneous receptors and excite the sympathetic adrenergic fibers, causing constriction of local arterioles and venules. There has been a study that suggests that WBC stimulates the autonomic nervous system (ANS) as well
Cryotherapy is also supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and is used to treat dogs, Horses, and other animals.
The History of Cryotherapy
Cold therapy is not a new invention; it is among man’s earliest medical treatments. The Edwin Smith Papyrus (3500 BC), the most ancient medical text, repeatedly mentioned cold therapy
Cold Therapy evolved over time from simple ice, to gel like packs, compression therapy, and finally the modern use of Cold Therapy: Cryosauna & Cryochambers
The original Cryotherapy Chamber was introduced in the 1970’s in Asia, later migrated to Europe, and only recently made it to America, it’s covered by insurance in most the world, America sadly is not one of those places yet
Cryosauna’s & Cryochambers
Cryosauna’s reach colder temperatures than Cryochambers because they use Dry Nitrogen Gas, which nearly reaches an astonishing -400 Degree below Zero (Fahrenheit), the chambers filter the Nitrogen through a separate chamber to ensure temperature don’t exceed livable conditions, and Co2 Monitors as well as thermometers are attached to all units to monitor conditions, there are also Numerous codes to ensure safety.
When you step into a Cryosauna an elevator at the bottom elevates your head above the chamber so that you’re above the heavier Nitrogen and can breath in air, instead of Co2 (Nitrogen)
Cryochambers work differently than Cryosaunas in that they’re full chambers you step into and are closed in to contain the cold air, unlike Cryosauna they don’t use Nitrogen, they use refrigerated air that reaches a maximum of -140 Degree’s Fahrenheit, this allows you to breath in the air, but probably still want to wear a face mask.
Cryochambers can also be done with multiple people at once, but this does diminish the Benefits.
Cryotherapy is different from normal Cold therapy in that it’s much less uncomfortable, unlike Cold Water, or direct contact with Ice, Dry Nitrogen is slow to pull the warmth from your body, so while the effects are the same, if not more potent when in the form of Cryotherapy, the session is much more comfortable.
For a more indepth Breakdown check out the full Article on Cryochambers vs Cryosaunas
Cryotherapy Benefits / What’s it used for?
The Benefits of Cryotherapy are numerous at first glance, but once you understand the science they become very simple.
You’ll Usually see the Benefits listed in some Variation of the Below:
- 1) Cold Exposure Aids Fat Loss
- 2) Cold Exposure Fights Inflammation
- 3) Cold Exposure Increases Lifespan
- 4) Cold Exposure Strengthens the Nervous System
- 5) Cold Exposure May Heal Injuries and Speed Recovery
- 6) Cold Exposure Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
- 7) Cold Exposure Improves Sleep Quality
- 8) Cold Exposure Strengthens the Immune System
- 9) Cold Exposure Enhances Detox Pathways
- 10) Cold Reduces Pain
- 11) Cold Exposure May Increase Bone Health
- 12) Cold Exposure Increases Will Power
- 13) Aids Memory and Cognitive Functions
- 14) Prolongs Youthful Skin
However these could technically be narrowed down to just 1 Benefit: Hormones
Basically the chain reaction of events that’s set off in your body during a Cryotherapy session all starts with Hormones, like Norepinephrine, from there it triggers Vasoconstriction & Metabolic activity, and these two then help with oxygenation, nutrition, and so forth. The body is an interconnected system where one change often effects another.
So while all these Benefits do exist, they often fall from the same tree, for example Medical Recovery & athletic performance, the Benefits of one, are the same that would benefit the other.
Meaning it has a Wide range of uses depending on your target goal.
Lets focus on the 2 Benefits that have been accepted the longest – Reduction of Inflammation, and the bolstering of the immune system
Everyone is aware that icing a swollen joint, or sprained ankle, will help reduce the inflammation
What is less known and equally consistent is secretion of Norepinephrine, which is a “Fight or Flight” response Hormone.
Each time you enter the Cryochamber it Doubles, Triples, or even quintuples the amount present in your brain and body.
Because your body must to survive each time.
Norepinephrine is hugly responsibly for activating your metabolic system (not directly but through UCP1) to keep you warm, as well as activating Vasoconstriction – the bodies act of pulling blood from extremities to the core in order to protect it.
Making it a potent Anti-Inflammatory, that’s right, the Benefit of Inflammation is directly related to Norepinephrine
and inflammation is also what causes pain – White blood cells will leak chemicals that cause area’s to be more sensitive to touch, this is because your body wants to deter you from using the injured area, preventing you from further injuring it.
Inflammation (from Latin inflammatio) is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and is a protective response involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The function of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and initiate tissue repair.
The classical signs of inflammation are heat, pain, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation is a generic response, and therefore it is considered as a mechanism of innate immunity, as compared to adaptive immunity, which is specific for each pathogen. Too little inflammation could lead to progressive tissue destruction by the harmful stimulus (e.g. bacteria) and compromise the survival of the organism. In contrast, chronic inflammation may lead to a host of diseases, such as hay fever, periodontitis, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer (e.g., gallbladder carcinoma). Inflammation is therefore normally closely regulated by the body.
Inflammation happens while working out as well, that “pumped up” or “swollen” feeling occurs when you increase the time your muscles are under tension. They become engorged with blood and have to stretch to accommodate the excess fluid. About 2 hours after working out your body releases anti-inflammatory hormones.
This inflammation is necessary for muscle growth, because of this you should not do Cryotherapy within the first hour after working out
If you’re training on a daily basis, you’re likely over training, your muscles need 24-48 hours to repair before they’re ready again, if you use them again before this time, additional inflammation will occur, and it will destroy the muscle rather than build it. Some people with lupus develop myositis, an inflammation of the skeletal muscles that causes weakness and loss of strength. Lupus myositis often affects the muscles of your neck, pelvis, thighs, shoulders and upper arms; difficulty in climbing stairs and getting up from a chair are early symptoms.
Additionally Norepinephrine inhibts TnF Alpha.
& TnF Alpha Does have it’s positives but…
Dysregulation of TNF production has been implicated in a variety of human diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, major depression, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Though controversial, studies of depression and IBD are currently being linked to TNF levels.
Norepinephrine also inhibits enzymes called Collagenase
Collagenases are enzymes that break the peptide bonds in collagen. They assist in destroying extracellular structures in the pathogenesis of bacteria such as Clostridium. They are considered a virulence factor, facilitating the spread of gas gangrene. They normally target the connective tissue in muscle cells and other body organs. This is also how Skin Care Benefits are achieved
Cryotherapy has also been shown to DOUBLE the amount of Glutathione in your body, it’s 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
So Basically it all goes back again and again to Hormones/Inflammation, and chain reacts out from there.
How Does it Work, Is it Safe?
Cryotherapy is safer than an Ice Bath.
It’s Safer because it’s far less stressful on your body and mind, the cold water has an immediate shock and hypervenalating effect that can cause your heart to stop pumping or cause you to black out, which could be very dangerous under many curcumstances.
Cryotherapy is not 100% safe either of course, you shouldn’t use it if:
Pregnant, allergic to cold, have high blood pressure, asthma, bleeding tendency, heart disease, CHF or COPD, Loss of consciousness, Seizures/Epilepsy, Severe Anemia, Any Heart Disorder, Shortness of Breath, Pacemaker, Heart Surgery, Claustrophobia, diabetes, Stroke, Heart Attack in previous 6 months, unstable angina, peripheral artery occlusive disease, Valvular heart disease, Raynauds disease, Vasculitis, Kidney or Urinary tract disease, DVT, Bacterial or viral infections of the skin, Fever, incontinence, less than 18 without consent, severe hypertension, recent myocardial infarction, symptomatic lung disorders, bleeding disorders, infection, symptomatic heart disease, or activation of latent viral conditions (i.e. cold sores)
As stated earlier all Cryochambers come with standard safety features like Oxygen/Co2 Monitors & thermometers
The entire chamber is also equipped with special temperature regulators and lastly all units must be set up to code – just like Water Heaters.
Meaning you have to have an additional Oxygen Monitor installed in the room, a ventilation fan to keep air flowing out of the room, and special piping, the city checks to ensure everything is up to code, and yes IceHouse Cryotherapy is 100% up to code.
Who’s using it?
It’s internationally used and accepted, frequently recommended by Doctors & Chiropractors, it’s used for Dogs, Horses, and is even covered by insurance everywhere outside of the United States.
Not to mention all those wanting to gain Athletic Benefits, Recovering From surgery, those wanting to stay youthful and live longer, etc.
Seriously to go through the entire list of Celebrities & athletes alone, as well as all the Doctors, Chiropractors, Business, and other professional insititutions now recommending it would take an entire article, which is why we put together the Cryotherapy in the Media Page, in case you want to check it out.
To name a few though:
Lebron James, Floyd Mayweather, Connor McGregor, Demi Lovato, Demi Moore, Daniel Craig, the Entire Dallas Maverics and Dallas Cowboys teams, etc, etc, etc
Check out our Cryotherapy in the Media page for more on the celebrities and news outlets raving about Cryotherapy
How Much Does it Cost?
Prices range quite a bit depending on location, a lot of things beyond overhead, codes, and taxes play into part, for example Nitrogen Deliveries, sometimes Cryotherapy Locations don’t have enough space to Legally (by code) store larger Nitrogen tanks, forcing them to get more smaller tanks, and drive up the cost.
This means that in some places Cryotherapy can cost over $100 a Session.
However we offer Cryotherapy at $65 Max, with an Introductory rate of $40
Research & Studies
The use of Cold Therapy has been around for hundreds of years – with the first published study being done in 1819, it’s very well documented to have Benefits at the least on Inflammation & the Immune system.
Fortunatly we know the key Hormone fighting the inflammation response is Norepinephrine, which we covered in the Benefits section of this article, so we’re going to instead op to link you two of the best sources we know for Cryotherapy Research, our Cryotherapy Research Bank and WholeBodyCryotherapy.Org’s Cryotherapy Article Bank
Overall, Cryotherapy is quick, inexpensive and well-tolerated by patients, it alone wont do the trick, but can have an impact, especially when coupled with rest and other treatments
So while the studies and research has not yielded what they call “evidence” in one single trial, there are numerous case studies reporting benefits – the problem is that they’re generally lacking control groups or blind studies, unfortunately doing a blind study is kind of impossible, since you know everytime you’re cold.
So while the studies aren’t perfect they’re very promising, and the results speak for themselves.
If you have any questions on Cryotherapy please feel free to contact us with your question and we’ll get back to you ASAP, you may also be interested in checking out our FAQ page.
Till next time,
IceHouse Team ❄