Nowadays, more and more celebrities and athletes decide to try cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is not something new. It’s been used in Europe for long time and the demand for cryotherapy in the US is growing in the past two years.
What is cryotherapy?
The word cryotherapy comes from the Greek word “cryo” (κρύο), that means cold, and “therapy” that means cure. It represents using low temperatures in medical therapy or in other words cold treatment. Whole body cryotherapy was used as early as the 17th century, according to Wikipedia.
The new modern application of cryotherapy originates from Japan, when a rheumatologist applied this type of therapy to treat joint pain in his patients.
Today’s treatment of whole body cryotherapy involves the patient to step into a chamber, almost naked for a cold blast of air. When it comes to local cryotherapy, the technician blasts cold air out with a help of a handheld device. This device is positioned on a part of the body to treat inflamed or injured areas.
There are several types of cryotherapies or low temperature treatments, such as whole-body and partial body cryotherapy.
Whole body cryotherapy involves exposing a person to extremely cold temperatures, -100◦C/-148◦F, for two to four minutes. The body should be covered with minimum clothing, shorts for men and shorts and crop top for women. You also have to wear gloves, dry socks, woolen headband to cover the ears and a cover for the nose and mouth to prevent cold-related injuries.
In whole body cryotherapy, the low temperatures are achieved in two ways, liquid nitrogen or refrigerated cold air.
Partial body cryotherapy is performed in cryosaunas or cryo chambers where the upper part of the body (the head and the arms can be outside of the chamber. This type of cryotherapy is more popular in the United States and is marketed as a whole body cryotherapy which is incorrect.
Benefits of Cryotherapy
The goal of cryotherapy is the use of extremely low temperatures to treat different symptoms and conditions. It can prevent tissue damage, decrease inflammation, decrease pain and spasm, increase cell rejuvenation, improve skin tone and reduce signs of aging. Promotes the constriction of blood vessels (vasoconstriction) and the extreme temperatures destroy cells by crystalizing the cytosol. Cytosol is a liquid found inside cells, also known as intracellular fluid. (ICF)
Why celebrities and athletes are using it?
After serious workouts, experts recommend athletes to do an ice bath, to decrease inflammation and post-workout muscle soreness. Cryotherapy is less stressful and is a good replacement for the ice bath.
Celebrities use the treatment as a way to procure relaxation, reduce stress, improve sleep disorders and improve jet lag. Some also use it as an additional process of their weight loss program. The reason for that is increased blood circulation and boosted metabolism.
Diet and a change in lifestyle are very important when you want to lose weight. Those with chronic pain will have to go for several treatments, in order to get full benefits, because the effects of cryotherapy are short term.
Many athletes and celebrities have tried this, like Kobe Bryant, Jessica Alba, Rooney etc.
Is it cheap or expensive?
A treatment usually costs around 80 to 100 dollars, meaning only wealthier guests can allow this therapy on a regular basis.
There are few companies in the USA that offers cryotherapy types of treatments, such as Cryohealthcare, Glace Cryotherapy etc. Cryohealthcare is the only company in the U.S. to feature several services. A single-person Cryosauna, a Walk-In Cryochamber, and local cryotherapy devices in their office.
Cryohealthcare was among the first companies to bring this treatment to the United States in 2009. But the popularity of this therapy increased with the appearance of Glacé Cryotherapy on the famous TV show Shark Tank.
So far, there are lack of evidence of both the positive effects and possible downsides of cryotherapy, because no official study has been performed yet. People that have experience with this type of treatment warmly recommend others to do so, because of the results they got in the post treatment period.
FDA scientific reviewer Anna Ghambaryan said the at this time there is insufficient publicly available information that can help us understand the benefits of cryotherapy, claimed by companies who offer these services. She recommends to be careful with WBC where liquid nitrogen is used. There is a risk of asphyxiation when the liquid nitrogen cools the vapor. Other risks include frostbite, burns, and eye injuries.
Before you decide to do a WBC or PBC, talk to your doctor in order to eliminate any possible risks.