Just a few months ago, I was training for an ultramarathon and suffering from back pain that was preventing me from fulling preparing for the race. The race was a longtime bucket list item, so I was determined to run it. But what about the pain?
The pain was a result from shoveling snow in January 2022. Here it was December, and I was still dealing it. I had tried physical therapy and received two injections, but neither brought relief.
Then a friend recommended cryotherapy. While I had heard of it before, I never considered as a pain treatment. At that point, anything was worth a try since I was only weeks away from my race.
Fast-forward today, I am pain free. Cryotherapy did the trick after just two weeks of daily treatments. I was able to race and have since returned to a normal active lifestyle. I continue to go to cryo weekly, since there are many benefits of continuing the treatment.
What is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy has been gaining popularity in recent years as a way to promote healing, reduce inflammation, and improve overall health and wellness. Some use it for longevity. It involves wearing minimal clothing and stepping into an upright chamber-like tank where your body is exposed to extremely low temperatures of -100°C and -140°C for 3 minutes. The cold air that you feel is liquid nitrogen, which cools the air to the desired temperature.
How does Cryotherapy work?
The theory behind cryotherapy is that the extreme cold temperature triggers the body’s natural healing mechanisms. When exposed to the cold, the body goes into a “fight or flight” response, which causes blood vessels to constrict and redirect blood flow away from the extremities and towards the vital organs. This response can help reduce inflammation, promote healing, and increase the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers.
Potential benefits of Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy has been promoted as a treatment for a wide range of conditions. Here are five benefits:
- Pain relief: Cryotherapy can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain.
- Improved athletic performance: Many athletes use cryotherapy to help reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time after intense workouts.
- Skin rejuvenation: The extreme cold temperature can help stimulate collagen production, which can improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars.
- Boosted immune system: Some studies have suggested that cryotherapy may help stimulate the immune system, which can help prevent illness and improve overall health.
- Longevity: There is some evidence to suggest that cryotherapy may help promote longevity by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
Potential risks of Cryotherapy
While cryotherapy is generally considered safe, there are some potential risks to be aware of. Here are five risks:
- Frostbite: Exposure to extreme cold temperatures can cause frostbite, which can damage the skin and underlying tissues.
- Headaches: If you head is not high enough from the rising liquid nitrogen, you may experience a short-lived headache shortly after treatment.
- Burns: Liquid nitrogen can cause burns if it comes into direct contact with the skin.
- Hypoxia: In rare cases, cryotherapy can cause a decrease in oxygen levels, which can lead to lightheadedness or fainting.
- Claustrophobia: Some people may feel claustrophobic inside the cryotherapy chamber.
Cryotherapy is a treatment that involves exposing the body to extremely low temperatures for a short period of time. While it is generally considered safe, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with this treatment. If you are considering cryotherapy, it is recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider first to determine if it is a safe and appropriate treatment option for you.
Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.