What is cryotherapy?
Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is the therapeutic treatment of exposing the body to extreme cold, which triggers a systemic anti-inflammatory response.
WBC originated in Japan to treat rheumatoid arthritis and to help decrease pain and inflammation in a number of chronic illnesses and disease. Studies performed in Europe over the last few decades have established the effectiveness of WBC in the treatment of a variety of conditions.
Currently, WBC is used to:
- Decrease injury recovery time by up to 50 percent
- Decrease post-surgical recovery time
- Improve athletic performance
- Increase metabolism
- Reduce fatigue
- Reduce muscle soreness
Cryotherapy is an effective treatment for athletic recovery, pain management, inflammation reduction and skin improvement. Numerous peer-reviewed studies have confirmed the benefits of WBC. However, it is not a medical procedure, and you should first check with your medical professionals to confirm whether WBC is appropriate for your health.
How does cryotherapy work?
Exposure to extreme cold temperatures—between -148 and -220 degrees Fahrenheit—for two to five minutes triggers thermoreceptors in your skin that signal your brain to think you are freezing. Your brain then responds by increasing blood flow throughout your body to maintain a safe body temperature.
Since cryotherapy is brief, there is no real risk of freezing, though your skin may be irritated for a day or two after treatment if your skin is sensitive to cold. Once blood flow increases throughout your body, it flushes out any lactic acid or other waste byproducts in your muscles that cause soreness and inflammation.
Increased blood flow also increases the spread of red blood cells, oxygen, collagen, and other essential nutrients which can heal tissues on a cellular level. This is why cryotherapy can have a global effect on the health of your muscles, joints, and skin.
What can I expect when getting cryotherapy?
If the Vanguard Spine & Sport team recommend cryotherapy for your condition, you first change into appropriate clothing—often athletic gear or a bathing suit and a robe—before entering the whole body cryotherapy chamber. The chamber is a freestanding unit that looks similar to a small shower stall with a sealable door to hold in the cold air.
Once you’re in the chamber, the team turns on the cold air vents and blasts you with cold air for a few minutes. If you’re uncomfortable at any time, you can let the team know, and they immediately stop the cold air flow. After your timed session is complete, you exit the chamber and get dressed privately.
You’ll feel cold for a few minutes until your blood flow increases enough to re-warm your body to a normal temperature.
If you want to try cryotherapy, schedule a visit online or call Vanguard Spine & Sport to set up an appointment.