Healthy Living

Everything You Need To Know About Cryotherapy

Everything You Need To Know About Cryotherapy

Key Takeaways

  • Cryotherapy originated in Japan during the late 1970s.
  • There are two types of cryotherapy: partial body cryotherapy and whole-body cryotherapy. 
  • Partial body cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen while whole-body cryotherapy uses refrigerated cold air.

Cryotherapy is gaining popularity each day quite fast primarily because some big names in sports and fitness are advocating its use. Many athletes have stated that they use cryotherapy regularly, even before and after their games. However, there is still a lot that is unknown about cryotherapy and we’re going to let you know the basics.

When did it start?

The idea of cooling the body to heal and help in recovery is not strange. After all, why do you rush to get ice packs from your freezer when you get an injury? This cold compression with ice is indeed a form of therapy though it is being localized.  So it all started from there- the need to cool the entire body.

So, the same process was magnified using cold baths. Similar to ice packs being wrapped in a towel, you put yourself in the tub and soak in the freezing water. Though these ice baths are quite popular, the temperature isn’t low enough, so you would have to stay in the bath for about 10 minutes.

When it comes to cryotherapy, the idea remains the same. But instead of dipping in ice-cold water, the temperature is lowered using liquid nitrogen or refrigerated cold air. The idea originated in Japan during the late 1970s but made its way to Europe and the US only in the 1980s. Since then, the practice has picked up popularity and is becoming more common every day.

What is the difference between partial and full-body cryotherapy?

The most common form of cryotherapy is partial body cryotherapy (PBC) where the individual enters a chamber with the top open so that their head is sticking out. Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) on the other hand involves total enclosure in the cryotherapy chamber. Another difference between the two is that PBC uses liquid nitrogen while WBC uses refrigerated cold air.

However, these terms are very often confused so much so that a PBC session may often be referred as a WBC.

How long does the cryotherapy session take?

It is not advisable to stay in the cryotherapy chamber for more than 3 minutes. When you are in the chamber, your core temperature remains the same but further exposure will begin to lower your core body temperature resulting in the body systems to shut down.

What is the temperature in a cryotherapy chamber?

Liquid nitrogen can cool the temperature of the skin below -100 degrees Celsius.

Are there any side-effects of cryotherapy treatment?

To date, there have been no definite negative side-effects. This does not mean it’s totally safe though as some argue that the cases where cryotherapy has resulted in adverse side-effects have been under-reported. This is probably why your insurance cover would not cater to this form of therapy.

What is cryotherapy used for?

Cooling the body has a number of benefits and cryotherapy is mostly used to:

  • Speed up the healing of injured tissues thereby reducing recovery time
  • Relieve pain due to injury or medical conditions such as arthritis
  • Rejuvenating the body by stimulating the nervous system