Simply put, cryotherapy essentially means exposure to cold temperatures for therapeutic benefits. It is a naturopathic treatment that does not require any medical procedures or drug administration.
While cryotherapy itself is an old method, tracing back to Asia, it has risen in popularity in the West in the past few decades as a natural therapy for muscle soreness in athletes.
There are two main ways this ‘cold therapy’ is used; the first, more common method is localized cryotherapy; basically using something cold like an ice pack on a twisted ankle. The second method is through full-body exposure to frigid temperatures.
What To Expect From a Cryotherapy Session?
Spas, naturopathic clinics, and specialized gyms offer cryotherapy treatments. For this ‘cold treatment,’ you enter a cold chamber where your entire body, apart from your head, is exposed to temperatures below 200 degrees F for about two to four minutes.
Some garments are provided, like gloves, ear muffs, and underwear to cover sensitive areas. If it gets uncomfortable at any point, you can simply open the door and step out.
Potential Cryotherapy Benefits
The potential benefits of cryotherapy include:
- Better mood and energy
- Muscle and joint pain relief
- Younger-looking skin
- Weight loss
While the treatment has been more commonly used to relieve muscle pain and stiffness, it has been used as a natural method to lose weight.
How it Works
Exposure to the cold temperature for such short periods penetrates the skin but doesn’t go any further. The few minutes where the skin experiences the cold, it goes into a “fight or flight” mode and triggers the brain to respond by releasing endorphins and norepinephrine to boost metabolism.
The blood rushes to the core in an attempt to raise the body temperature, burning calories along the way. This effect is expected to last even after the session.
While the raised metabolic response might initially last 3-5 days, repeated cryotherapy sessions make this increased metabolic rate more permanent and longer-lasting.
The increased calorie burning and raised metabolic rate can potentially result in weight loss. Regular cryotherapy sessions ‘train’ the body to continue this passive method of calorie-burning, and lost weight can be maintained this way.
Other Benefits Leading to Weight Loss
One of the benefits of cryotherapy sessions is revitalization and elevated moods due to the release of endorphins. This leads to healthier lifestyle choices that aid in weight loss.
Is Cryotherapy Safe?
The procedure is executed by trained professionals under careful supervision to ensure it is safely carried out. However, people with pre-existing medical conditions like severe hypertension and heart conditions and pregnant women are not advised to undergo this therapy.
That being said, this treatment has gained popularity in recent years for effectively relieving pain and various ailments, weight loss, and revitalizing the body.