Cryotherapy has, quite literally, become one of the ‘coolest’ health and well-being treatments in recent years.
If you’re wondering what on Earth this latest health craze is, then put simply, it’s immersing yourself in a chamber with air frozen to temperatures extreme as minus 180 degrees Celsius!
You may already be familiar with exposing your body to freezing temperatures for various health benefits. For example, spas often have cold showers and freezing dipping pools. If you’ve heard of Wim Hof then you’ll know he swears by cold therapy to be strong, happy and healthy.
Getting super cold for health isn’t entirely new news, but the extreme freezing temperatures of some cryotherapy treatments might be next level. The temperature sounds pretty insane to me, but it could be a natural way to be healthier and relieve many health complaints. I’d rather try natural methods before resorting to medications.
Whilst this might all sound barmy, there are actually numerous health benefits to whole body cryotherapy which I’ll explore in this blog post.
What does a whole body cryotherapy treatment entail?
Cryotherapy simply means ‘cold therapy’ and many of us have used a form of it in the past. Ever had a sprain or a muscle injury and held a frozen bag of peas to it to aid recovery? That’s a form of cold therapy, aka cryotherapy.
Whole body cryotherapy is a way to apply this same ideology to your whole body in one go.
The treatment involves your entire body, so you stand in a chamber, or tank, which will surround your entire body. The head is not enclosed, but sticks out of the top of the chamber.
It’s like a stand in sauna, but instead of being immersed in hot air, the body will be subjected to freezing temperatures in the form of cold, dry air.
The treatment doesn’t take long, around 3-5 minutes. Any longer and it may have negative health effects, so treatments are kept short.
There are also treatments available for specific parts of the body, like the face for example, but it’s whole body cryotherapy that has been gaining the most attention in recent times.
BMI healthcare describe it as “The chamber works by cooling the entire skin surface of the body in order to stimulate defensive reflexes and reactions such as increase in blood circulation and help to stimulate the immune and central nervous systems.”
There is lots more info on whole body cryotherapy treatments online, but now I’ll take a look at the benefits.
What are the benefits of whole body cryotherapy?
This treatment is only a few years old and still requires research, but there are many potential benefits of immersing yourself in freezing temperatures.
Here are some of the conditions whole body cryotherapy may relieve and other health benefits:
- Pain relief – it may be an effective treatment for pain relief caused by a variety of conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis and migraines to start.
- Stress, anxiety or depression – the therapy can release adrenaline and endorphins which can boost mood and help relieve mood disorders.
- Weight loss – being cold means your body has to work hard to stay warm, which could help to encourage effective weight loss, as it raises the metabolic rate to warm the body.
- Post training muscle recovery – many athletes around the world use the treatment post workout to prevent injury, speed healing and aid muscle recovery.
- Reduced inflammation – The treatment may help to reduce inflammation which can reduce the risk of many health conditions from diabetes to depression and dementia. Medical News Today says “Some studies suggest that cryotherapy can reduce inflammation. However, most research has been done on rats, so to confirm the data, more research is needed on people”.
- Skin conditions – it can help to improve skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne and eczema through its anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Feel good factor – Some people don’t have a specific health complaint they wish to address with whole body cryotherapy, but instead they do it for a euphoric feeling and sense of wellbeing that it creates.
Cryotherapy isn’t suitable for everyone, so do check with your doctor or the clinic before booking a session. If you are pregnant or have heart conditions then you definitely should avoid this treatment. It’s a good idea to have a consultation with a treatment centre before booking as they can explain the procedure in detail, any risks and ask medical questions to assess your suitability.
Cryotherapy shows many promising health benefits and there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence of its success and studies emerging to back up many of the claims. Even without a health condition to relieve, it certainly sounds like a unique experience to try one day!