Cryotherapy is a treatment which continues to rapidly gain popularity. Its emotional, physiological and cosmetic benefits have made it popular among professional athletes, celebrities and wellness-conscious individuals over the years. Although the practice of using the extreme cold as a treatment dates back to 2500 BC with the Ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians, cryotherapy is still going strong to this day.
The History of Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy as we know it was first developed in Japan, in 1978, by Dr. Yamaguchi.
Dr. Yamaguchi treated patients with rheumatoid arthritis using freezing treatments in short durations on the surface of their skin. By doing this, Yamaguchi found that the rapid decrease in the temperature on the outer layer of the skin led to an immediate release of endorphins and decreased pain sensitivity. Further research following this led to the development of full cryogenic chambers where it was found that cryotherapy was a great form of physical therapy.
Upon this finding, cryotherapy was first used as a form of physical therapy in 2000 by a group of scientists working at the Olympic rehabilitation center in Spala, Poland. Since then, this treatment and rehab center has been used as a training and injury center for many athletes.
Despite its visible benefits for athletes, cryotherapy is a treatment which has many benefits that go beyond the athletic world.
Why Cryotherapy is Proving to be Popular
What makes cryotherapy unique is that this treatment isn’t designed to entirely replace current routines. Athletes won’t end their regular gym routines and solely implement cryotherapy, while those looking to lose weight will maintain a healthy diet alongside the cutting-edge extension in cryotherapy.
One of the reasons why cryotherapy is proving to be popular in the 21st century is because it covers a wide range of benefits: recovery, beauty and anti-aging, stress reduction, pain management, wellness and weight loss.
This means cryotherapy is a treatment designed to cater for many needs, eliminating the need for multiple techniques and treatments for various aims.
Weight Loss: More and more people are searching for better ways to lose weight. This is where the popularity of cryotherapy and its innovative technology comes in.
The reason cryotherapy can assist with weight loss is because it rapidly increases your metabolic rate. So, if this is combined with regular exercise and a healthy diet, it’s a more efficient way of losing weight than traditional methods.
Once inside of a chamber, your brain signals to the rest of your body to pump blood to your core to increase your body heat - and therefore, your metabolic rate increases too. Then, the enriched blood rushes back out and through your body which boosts cell renewal, immunity and provides natural pain relief. This means that your body is then using a lot of energy to heat itself back up again, which assists with you achieving faster weight loss.
Wellness: Cryotherapy can also improve your overall wellness, especially if you’re searching for a natural way to boost your health. This goes far beyond the food you consume and the lifestyle you lead.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an important factor for general wellbeing and to keep your body functioning at optimum level. This is why cryotherapy is now a popular treatment due to its range of benefits. This includes improving your sleep, boosting immunity, increasing endorphins for elevated physical and mental wellbeing along with elevating your mood to help keep you feeling healthy.
Beauty & Anti-Aging: When you’re talking about health and beauty, the industry always turns to natural treatments that are both organic and herbal, yet safe and effective to use for a more youthful appearance.
Cryotherapy is now seen as the ultimate anti-aging therapy because of how safe it is and the proven results it has towards safely rejuvenating skin. This is now popular because the sudden exposure to extreme cold will cause your blood vessels in the dermal layer of your skin to contract before dilating once the treatment is over. This process oxygenates your blood and delivers healing enzymes and nutrients to every part of your body. Along with this, the production of collagen is increased to improve the firmness and elasticity of your skin and the lymphatic system moves toxins out of your body to help reduce cellulite.
Recovery: A common misconception about cryotherapy in regards to recovery is that it can only help those athletes that are suffering from an injury. This is not the case, because cryotherapy is soaring in popularity because it assists with recovery in numerous factors.
For example, you might be a regular exerciser who has an injury, you might be going through post-surgery rehab or you could even just be severely jetlagged. Cryotherapy sessions can help you to speed up muscle repair which allows you to achieve your peak performance and goals.
It’s now widely-accepted as a rehabilitation method if you’re recovering from injury and is beneficial in speeding up muscle recovery after exercise.
Pain Management: Regardless of whether it’s short-term or chronic pain, cryotherapy is known to assist in the treatment of pain and inflammation while promoting rapid healing. Treatments also help improve joint function, flexibility and minimise acute pain for immediate, powerful and lasting results.
The popularity of this treatment is down to how it works. Cryotherapy exposes your body to extremely cold temperatures for a short period of time to slow down the nerve transmission of pain to your brain. This increases norepinephrine levels and reduces inflammation. All of these responses work in combination to relieve the intensity and frequency of pain you’re suffering.
Stress Reduction: The way you manage your stress is a personal preference. You might prefer to exercise to elevate your mood and think more clearly, you might rely on medication or might combine both. You might also reap the benefits of how cryotherapy can help alleviate stress.
Cryotherapy treatments have a holistic benefit which will promote the release of serotonin and endorphins to improve your mood and sharpen your cognitive functions to have a positive and therapeutic effect on your body’s central nervous system. This helps relieve the impact of stress on your body.
The Influencers Who Rely on Cryotherapy
Despite the many benefits of cryotherapy, there are several high-profile key influencers from the world of sport who document their use of cryotherapy. In a world where technology rapidly advances, the continued use of cryotherapy shows just how popular it remains with professional athletes discovering that cryotherapy is the best treatment to decrease recovery time and enhance athletic performance.
Two of of the biggest influencers in recent times include NBA MVP and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, along with five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese soccer star relies on cryotherapy to such an extent that he has had his own chamber installed in his home. Ronaldo - who’s following in the footsteps of fellow Real Madrid legend Raul who also had a cryotherapy chamber installed in his home - undergoes two three-minute sessions per week. By regularly undergoing cryotherapy treatment, he’s taken his already-incredible strength and fitness to another level.
This delays the fatigue and speeds up his post-match recovery so he can remain at his healthiest and continue dominating.
Those efforts can be seen on the pitch, as his cryotherapy treatment along with regular training and work in the gym has seen him perform consistently at the highest level. By doing this, his red blood cell count is increased which means oxygen reaches his muscles a lot quicker. This delays the fatigue and speeds up his post-match recovery so he can remain at his healthiest and continue dominating.
In the NBA, living-legend LeBron James relies on cryotherapy while the treatment was also a favorite for Los Angeles Lakers demi-God, Kobe Bryant. This treatment is highly beneficial to those in the NBA because of their gruelling schedules.
Image Credit: Bleacher Report
Elite NBA athletes like James can be in high-intensity games four times a week, for example. With this schedule and the need to regularly perform at his best, nagging injuries can occur throughout the season. These smaller injuries build up over time and can end up having a much bigger impact.
Cryotherapy reduces swelling, inflammation and lactic acid as well as activating an essential nervous system response which helps their bodies heal more efficiently and function a lot better.
The popularity of cryotherapy doesn’t end there. After seeing what it has done for somebody like Kobe Bryant, it inspired Floyd Mayweather Jr to undergo the same treatment in the build-up to his clash against Manny Pacquiao, often stepping into a cryotherapy chamber in the early hours. Now, more and more teams are building their own chamber or purchasing them to install in their team facilities for their stars to use. It’s not only a one-off use either, as professional athletes will often have up to two sessions a day to help them achieve peak performance.
Cryotherapy isn’t just limited to the world of sports either. World-renowned names like Kate Moss, Demi Moore, Maria Menounos and even Toni Braxton have turned to cryotherapy to improve their overall wellness, showing how popular this technique is now becoming.
How Cryotherapy Helps Outside of Sports Rehabilitation
Weight Loss, Wellness and Beauty
The unique thing about cryotherapy is that it isn’t just targeted to one specific area. While world famous athletes are utilising its many recovery benefits, cryotherapy is gaining popularity for weight loss, wellness and beauty too. For example, cryotherapy can help different types of skin to improve the tone, reduce fine lines and helps people stay young and feeling better about themselves.
For beauty and wellness, cryotherapy is designed to shock the body into action by increasing blood circulation. This boosts the central nervous and immune systems to assist with anti-aging and helping people stay looking young. So, things like blemishes, wrinkles and fine lines are reduced, with cryotherapy stimulating collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin.
Weight loss and wellness also work hand in hand. Despite the scepticism, cryotherapy can assist with weight loss - but only if a healthy diet is also taken into consideration.
When inside of a cryotherapy chamber, the air flows over the surface of the skin and the body’s cold receptors are triggered. The body is then then tricked into thinking the air is going to penetrate the skin so it jumps into hyper-healing mode. During this process, the body successfully raises the skin’s temperature which not only accounts for a metabolism boost, but also helps tighten the skin at the same time.
With more people looking for ways to boost their health naturally and maintain their overall wellness, cryotherapy is quickly becoming a key part in daily and weekly routines.