Chill Out: The Benefits of Cryotherapy and
Cryotherapy, also known as cryogenic therapy, exposes the body to freezing or below-freezing temperatures for therapeutic purposes. Although medical practitioners have long used cryotherapy for targeted, specific treatments, cryotherapy is increasingly popular among athletes to promote training performance and recovery.
The Benefits of Cryotherapy
Both casual and serious athletes use cryotherapy to improve performance and speed up recovery post-training. Cryotherapy is used to ease muscle tension, promote healing, and reduce the onset of DOMs. It works by “resetting” your circulatory system by sending your blood rushing to your core. Some of the reported benefits of cryotherapy include:
- Reduced muscle tension. Cryotherapy helps reduce tension in tension-prone areas such as the neck and shoulders or major muscle groups at risk of overuse injuries. This can reduce recovery time, minimize pain, and reduce the risk of strains or injuries.
- Decreased inflammation. Extending the principle that applying ice to inflamed areas can reduce swelling and inflammation, cryotherapy chambers can minimize swelling, bruising, and inflammation. This reduces soreness and pain in athletes, while also accelerating recovery times. Cryotherapy may also help people manage headaches and migraines.
- Improved metabolism. Exposing the body to sub-zero temperatures can boost the metabolism, burn calories, and help attack stubborn “brown” fat. The outcome is improved body composition, helping athletes meet both performance and aesthetic goals.
- Improved performance. Reduced recovery time means athletes are able to perform at a higher level, especially when training frequently or undertaking long training sessions. Cryotherapy may help improve stamina, reduce soreness and improve injury management.
- Emotional wellbeing. Some people also report feeling a sense of wellbeing or euphoria during treatment, along with increased wakefulness after a session. This may lead to improved focus and performance.
Cryotherapy can be delivered locally to a specific area, or to the whole body. Local cryotherapy is usually applied via ice packs, ice massages, or even ice baths. Whole-body cryotherapy, in contrast, involves immersing the entire body in sub-zero temperatures.
Although some small-scale cryotherapy treatments can be performed at home, professional-grade treatments such as the Cryo Arctic chamber by Cryo Science, used at Optimum, deliver superior benefits.
What to Expect from a Cryotherapy Session
Cryotherapy chambers are fully immersive environments resembling a walk-in freezer. You’ll be asked to wear gloves, socks, underwear, a headband, and earmuffs. In some instances, you’ll wear a mask for respiration purposes; the Cryo Arctic chamber used at Optimum Human offers breathable air, so there’s no risk of nitrogen exposure.
While you’ll feel cold during your session, sessions are only a few minutes long and the risk of any harm is very low. However, individuals who are pregnant, or who have a heart condition, high blood pressure, high stroke risk, or seizure disorders should consult a doctor before considering treatment. A cryotherapy session burns between 400-600 calories, so bring a snack for after your session.
Optimum Human offers a full suite of human performance amenities, including a Cryo Arctic chamber by Cryo Science. For more information about our wellness offerings, or to book a session with us, get in touch!