Cryo comes from the Greek word cryo, or (κρύο), and means cold. Cryotherapy refers to any form of treatment that relies on the application of cold temperatures. Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is most commonly utilized in the field of sports medicine as a mode of muscle recovery and pain relief. However, it has recently gained notoriety for its use in the treatment of eczema, depression, and anxiety, and even in the prevention of symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The focus of this article will be on the benefits and limitations of entering the extremely cold environment of the cryo chamber.
What Is Whole Body Cryotherapy?
Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) involves immersing the body in a cold chamber, which emits vapors that reach extremely low temperatures ranging from -110℃ to -160 ℃ (around -160℉ to -220℉). This is usually done for an interval of 2 to 4 minutes [R, R].
When in the cryogenic chamber, individuals are undressed with the exception of underwear, socks, and gloves to protect the extremities [R].
What Is a Cryochamber?
The cryo chamber is an individual, tube-shaped enclosure that covers a person’s body with an open top to keep the head at room temperature. The frigid environment is generated by the emission of cool air, but some cryogenic chambers generate these temperatures by forced convection, which involves pumping the cool air from an external circuit [R, R].
Mechanism of Action
The fundamental change in the body caused by whole body cryotherapy is the reduction of tissue temperature [R].
The change in tissue temperature also causes a reduction in core body temperature. This sensory shock leads to an activation of the autonomic, or unconscious, nervous system. This is characterized by rising norepinephrine levels, increased blood pressure, and heart rate variability [R, R]. When the body is exposed to extreme cooling, the blood vessels are constricted and reduce blood flow to the areas of inflammation. Once outside of the cryogenic chamber, the vessels expand, and an increased presence of anti-inflammatory proteins (IL-10) are found in the blood [R, R]. In a randomized crossover study, 11 athletes performed better on a protocol test before and after a run. The improvement was supported by lower heart rates, oxygen consumption, and rates of perceived exertion. This recovery is presumed to be a result of more oxygen for the working muscles and less strain on the heart and veins [R]. A within-subject control study showed that ankle-localized cryotherapy in 23 participants leads to slower conduction of nerve signals in the treatment site. It can also lead to improvements in pain threshold and tolerance [R]. Two literature reviews on whole body cryotherapy support these claims that the induced cold body temperatures can help reduce pain, inflammation, and improve recovery [R, R].
Providing a state of the art nitrogen vapor cooling technology system, the CRYO Penguin is a high-end localized cryotherapy device able to be used on Your body & face. This allows us to target specific areas. Great for back, neck, Migraines, or Facials. There are many benefits for CryoTherapy and you can find several of the studies HERE.
NormaTec’s patented Sequential Pulse Technology sets it apart from any other massage compression device by synergistically combining three distinct massage techniques – Pulsing, Gradient Hold, and Distal Release – to speed the body’s recovery process.
Users include members of elite NCAA programs, the majority of NFL, NBA, and NHL teams; the US Navy Seals; and the US Olympic Committee. Cryo-eeze has made both the PULSE systems available to clients that are looking for quicker muscle recovery and a decrease in muscle fatigue and stiffness. Our rehabilitation clients notice a reduction in swelling, pain and an increased range of motion. Read more Here