Cryotherapy is cool
Freezing your ass off in a cold chamber might seem like an odd way to get healthy, but if you like the cold, you’ll love cryotherapy. Even this Florida guy has gotten used to it. It’s cool and a great way to chill – pun intended. But what is cryotherapy, and what can it do for you? Quite a lot, it turns out. Cryotherapy, which literally means “cold therapy,” is a treatment that exposes the body to frigid temperatures for a few minutes. The version I’ve experienced at Victorias Treatment involves stepping into a cryo-chamber in a bathing suit or shorts and remaining there for three minutes at -85C or -121F for my US friends. In other words, pretty damn cold! To provide health benefits, a cryo-therapist can treat a single area or the entire body, which is called Whole-Body Cryotherapy (WBC). Just a single session of cryotherapy will benefit you, but you’ll reap more benefits by getting regular treatments. The “Iceman” Wim Hof believes that extreme cold can provide great mental and physical health benefits, as well as prolong life.
Some people want to target specific areas, such as a painful joint or muscle. Cryotherapy can help relieve muscle and joint pain, as well as promote faster healing of athletic injuries. Professional and amateur athletes use cryotherapy to treat and rehab from injuries because the cold can numb an irritated nerve (numb pain). Treatments can also help relieve pinched nerves, chronic pain and acute injuries. WBC treatment is effective in reducing arthritis pain significantly, according to Trusted Source. I’ve been using WBC, Cryo T-Shock (the T stands for thermogenic) and compression-pants treatments to reduce pain in my knees from vigorous exercise and arthritis. (Those of you who read my blog posts know that I’ve had full-replacement surgery on both knees.) Heat helps relieve the pain in stiff joints, promotes blood flow and helps muscles relax. Cold is excellent at numbing pain and reducing inflammation by decreasing blood flow, which reduces the risk of swelling and tissue damage. And when you alternate heat and cold, you get the best of both. It’s common for some athletes to have cryotherapy sessions twice a day, while others prefer a single session daily for around 10 days followed by a treatment once a month.
The super-cold temperature in WBC also causes physiological hormonal responses, including releasing endorphins, noradrenaline and adrenaline that many say can positively affect anxiety and depression in the short term. WBC was also found to significantly reduce pain in people with arthritis. Other studies have found that cryotherapy can help reduce migraine symptoms by cooling and numbing nerves in the neck area. And, as I mentioned earlier, some studies suggest that cryotherapy can reduce inflammation, which can boost overall health and reduce the risk of numerous chronic ailments. “Nowadays, whole-body cryotherapy is a medical physical treatment widely used in sports medicine. Recovery from injuries (e.g., trauma, overuse) and after-season recovery are the main purposes for application. However, the most recent studies confirmed the anti-inflammatory, anti-analgesic, and antioxidant effects of this therapy by highlighting the underlying physiological responses. In addition to its therapeutic effects, whole body cryotherapy has been demonstrated to be a preventive strategy against the deleterious effects of exercise-induced inflammation and soreness,” according to a review found at the National Institute of health –Whole-Body Cryotherapy in Athletes: From Therapy to Stimulation. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28512432/). But if jumping into a cryo-chamber isn’t your cup of tea, then perhaps local esthetic cryotherapy is more up your ally.
One of the fields in which cryotherapy has gained force is esthetics, thanks to many celebrities who’ve helped to popularize this treatment all over the world. Esthetic cryotherapy is the use of cryotherapy as a beauty treatment. You can treat thighs, arms, sides and butts to eliminate fat and tighten loose skin. If you’re wondering if cryotherapy is good for your skin, the answer is yes, as the extreme cold can help stimulate collagen production, which is essential to keeping your skin plump and free from wrinkles. Exposure to cold fires up your metabolism, circulation and promotes a series of reactions that rejuvenate your skin. Controlled exposure to cold also has vasoconstrictor and analgesic effects. Facial cryotherapy removes the unsightly brown spots on the face caused by the sun and aging. Those who have tried it (I haven’t – yet) say it’s painless and produces excellent results.
I’ve visited Victorias Treatment several times and will continue to visit them. I began with a few sessions of Body Sculpt, focusing on my abdomen. The session consisted of 30 minutes of cycles of electricity that contracted my muscles hard for 10-20 seconds and then allowed them to relax. Each time a session was over, I felt as if I’d done sit-ups all day long. The contractions are said to be the equivalent of 25,000 sit-ups in 30 minutes. It certainly feels like it. After the Body Sculpt, I moved on to WBC (Whole Body Therapy) in the cryo-chamber I wrote about earlier. I used a facemask because the frigid air irritated my nostrils (but others had no problem), boots, an ear-warmer and gloves, taking the advice of the professional cryotherapist.
Mind and “other body parts” numbing
Entering the chamber was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The blast of cold air numbed me at first but breathing exercises took my mind off the cold. It didn’t take long. After a three-minute session, I emerged feeling rejuvenated, energized and ready to tackle the day ahead of me. I moved on to Cryo T-Shock therapy for the pain and arthritis in my knees The alternating cold and heat (from -2C to 39C) knee massage was the best I’ve ever had. It was so relaxing, I nearly drifted off to sleep. My session rounded off with 40 minutes in a pair of compression pants that covered each leg from the tip of my toes to the top of my thighs. Air was pumped into the pants to inflate them tightly around my legs and then released to relax them. The compression cycle lasted about 15-20 seconds. Completing all three treatments made my knees feel 20 years younger. But it wasn’t just my knees that felt great, it was my entire body. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt better, especially my knees. I felt like I could run a marathon. If you’re thinking about giving cryotherapy a try, I can definitely recommend Victorias Treatment in Stockholm. You won’t regret it.