Cryotherapy Cold Therapy for Pain Management

Cryotherapy literally means cold therapy. When you press a bag of frozen peas on a swollen ankle or knee, you are treating your pain with a modern (although basic) version of cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy can be applied in various ways, including icepacks, coolant sprays, ice massage, and whirlpools, or ice baths. When used to treat injuries at home, cryotherapy refers to cold therapy with ice or gel packs that are usually kept in the freezer until needed. These remain one of the simplest, time-tested remedies for managing pain and swelling.

Using cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is the “I” component of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). This is a treatment recommended for the home care of many injuries, particularly ones caused by sports.

Cryotherapy for pain relief may be used for:

  • Runner’s knee
  • Tendonitis
  • Sprains
  • Arthritis pain
  • Pain and swelling after a hip or knee replacement
  • To treat pain or swelling under a cast or a splint
  • Lower back pain

The benefits of applying ice include:

  • It lowers your skin temperature.
  • It reduces the nerve activity.
  • It reduces pain and swelling.

Experts believe that cryotherapy can reduce swelling, which is tied to pain. It may also reduce sensitivity to pain. Cryotherapy may be particularly effective when you are managing pain with swelling, especially around a joint or tendon.

How to apply cold therapy

Putting ice or frozen items directly on your skin can ease pain, but it also can damage your skin. It’s best to wrap the cold object in a thin towel to protect your skin from the direct cold, especially if you are using gel packs from the freezer.

Apply the ice or gel pack for brief periods – about 10 to 20 minutes – several times a day. Check your skin often for sensation while using cryotherapy. This will help make sure you aren’t damaging the tissues.

You might need to combine cryotherapy with other approaches to pain management:

  • Rest. Take a break from activities that can make your pain worse.
  • Compression. Applying pressure to the area can help control swelling and pain. This also stabilizes the area so that you do not further injure yourself.
  • Elevation. Put your feet up, or elevate whatever body part is in pain.
  • Pain medicine. Over-the-counter products can help ease discomfort.
  • Rehabilitation exercises. Depending on where your injury is, you might want to try stretching and strengthening exercises that can support the area as recommended by your healthcare provider.

Stop applying ice if you lose feeling on the skin where you are applying it. If cryotherapy does not help your pain go away, contact your healthcare provider. Also, you may want to avoid cryotherapy if you have certain medical conditions, like diabetes, that affect how well you can sense tissue damage.


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Fat Reduction – Minimally Invasive Procedures

Nonsurgical or minimally invasive options for fat reduction include technology that uses heat, cooling or to destroy fat cells.

What is cryolipolysis?

Cryolipolysis, commonly referred to as “CoolSculpting” or “Cryo Slimming” or “CryoSlimming” by patients, uses cold temperature to break down fat cells. The fat cells are particularly susceptible to the effects of cold, unlike other types of cells. While the fat cells freeze, the skin and other structures are spared from injury.

This is one of the most popular nonsurgical fat reduction treatments, with over 450,000 procedures performed worldwide.

Reasons patients want cryoliplysis

Patients who wish to reduce a localized fat bulge that has persisted despite diet and exercise may be interested in cryolipolysis.

Who is not a candidate for cryolipolysis?

Patients with cold-related conditions, like cryoglobulinemia, cold urticaris and paroxysmal cold hemoglobulinuria should not have cryolipolysis. Patients with loose skin or poor tone may not be suitable candidates for the procedure.

What does cryolipolysis do?

The goal of cryolipolysis is to reduce the volume of fat in a fatty bulge. Some patients may opt to have more than one area treated or to retreat an area more than once.

Does cryolipolysis require anesthesia?

This procedure is done without anesthesia.

Cryolipolysis procedure

After an assessment of the dimensions and shape of the fatty bulge to be treated, an applicator of the appropriate size and curvature is chosen. The area of concern is marked to identify the site for applicator placement. A gel pad is placed to protect the skin. The applicator is applied and the bulge is vacuumed into the hollow of the applicator. The temperature inside the applicator drops, and as it does so, the area numbs. Patients sometimes experience discomfort from the vacuum’s pull on their tissue, but this resolves within minutes, once the area is numb.

Patients typically watch TV, use their smart phone or read during the procedure. After the hour-long treatment, the vacuum turns off, the applicator is removed and the area is massaged, which may improve the final results.

What are the risks of cryolipolysis?

The complication rate is low and the satisfaction rate is high. There is a risk of surface irregularities and asymmetry. Patients may not get the result they’d hoped for. Rarely, in less than 1 percent, patients may have paradoxical fat hyperplasia, which is an unexpected increase in the number of fat cells. This is three times more likely in men than in women and is seen more in those of Hispanic or Latino descent.

Recovering from cryolipolysis

There are no activity restrictions. Patients sometimes feel sore, as if they had worked out. Rarely do patients experience pain. If that happens the patient should contact the plastic surgeon, who may prescribe medication for a few days.

What are the results of cryolipolysis?

The injured fat cells are gradually eliminated by the body over 4 to 6 months. During that time the fatty bulge decreases in size, with an average fat reduction of about 20 percent.

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How Infrared Sauna and Cryotherapy Benefit Skin

Whether you have your finger on the pulse of the hottest wellness trends or not, it is hard to ignore the rise in infrared sauna sweats and cryotherapy chills. Despite their polar opposite temperatures, both of these tried-and-true rituals come with a dose of impressive health benefits. And as with many things in the health and fitness world, the promising properties of infrared sauna and cryotherapy cross over into beauty, too.

Up ahead, we tap the experts to find out why (and how) cryotherapy and infrared sauna leave a lasting effect on the skin, plus how submerging yourself in their hot and cold temperatures can amp up your health regimen.

Infrared Sauna Benefits
If you belong to a gym or have ever treated yourself to a relaxing day at the spa, you are probably familiar with the sauna. But although they look similar, these saunas and the raved-about infrared saunas are different in the way they heat the body up. “Hot coal saunas [aka those typically found at the gym] warms the surrounding air and causes you to become warm,” explains Alissia Zenhausern, N.M.D., a naturopathic physician at NMD Wellness of Scottsdale. “An infrared sauna uses infrared light to actually stimulate heat from the inside out,” she adds, suggesting that it’s like “a mini-fever [that] stimulates your body to detox.” Because of that, sweating it out in an infrared sauna can up the ante on your skincare.

“With your skin being not only the largest organ of your body but also a vital organ of detoxification, infrared sauna treatments will help you detox from environmental toxins leading to exceptional glowing skin,” says Zenhausern. In addition to glowing skin, detoxification can also help reduce acne because “the mild increase in body temperature that is seen with infrared sauna use can help kill bacteria that can cause acne,” notes Zenhausern. “The other reason it is helpful is because infrared sauna treatments help your skin properly detox and can help minimize clogged pores, areas where bacteria love to sit,” she adds.

The stimulation of sweat helps to improve blood flow and circulation, two necessities in targeting the look of cellulite. And, on top of that, an infrared sauna sweat sesh could help improve rosacea. While the heat from an infrared sauna might seem like the worst thing you can do for rosacea-ridden skin, its anti-inflammatory benefits (combined with the detoxification) actually help reduce the appearance says Zenhausern.

A sauna isn’t the only way to reap the benefits — infrared light facials are an excellent way to target concerns specifically on the complexion. Like the sauna, the infrared light helps kill acne-causing bacteria, helps decrease inflammation, and promotes detoxification for clearer skin.

What is an infrared sauna treatment like?
When you step foot into an infrared sauna, you will find that it has a similar look and feel to the hot coal saunas, only it uses light to trigger your body’s natural detox. According to Zenhausern, an infrared sweat sesh typically lasts around 30 minutes and can range in temperature from 110 degrees to 130 degrees. “Typically, if it is your first treatment, start slow at about 110,” she notes. “The idea is to stimulate sweating, not to make you feel distressed, so some people do just fine at 110 and do not need to increase the temperature for future sessions,” she adds.

As to how often you should sweat, Zenhausern says “the frequency of treatment varies depending on what you wish to address. Ideally, a 30 to 40-minute infrared sauna treatment can be done three times a week.” However, most people can hit the sauna once a week. “You will still see results with going weekly or monthly, but the effect will likely be less,” notes Zenhausern.

In your first sauna session, you might not sweat as much as you think as “the sauna warms you using infrared light [it] can take your body a little time to adjust, [which] is often why you don’t sweat during the first treatment,” explains Zenhausern. “Once your body understands what the infrared sauna is doing, sweating will occur.” After your infrared sauna treatment, Zenhausern recommends increasing your water intake. “Make sure to drink at least half your body weight in ounces. So, for example, if you weigh 135 pounds, drink roughly 67 ounces of water.”

Cryotherapy Benefits
On the opposite end of the spectrum, cryotherapy is another popular wellness treatment that boasts major benefits. “Cryotherapy is the practice of exposing the body to cold temperatures,” explains Lily Kunin, founder of Clean Market, a wellness center in New York City. “Whole body cryotherapy exposes the body to sub-zero temperatures of up to -220 degrees Fahrenheit in order to stimulate multiple physical benefits,” she adds.

Cryotherapy isn’t just for the body though, which is why cryotherapy facials — aka cryofacials — have become increasingly popular amongst beauty editors and skin care fanatics alike. If a full body experience in a cryotherapy sauna seems intimidating, this facial treatment may be for you. “When applied locally to the face, cryotherapy reduces inflammation, which can help stimulate collagen. Additionally, it can help reduce fine lines, clear acne and eczema, and reduce signs of aging,” notes Kunin. On top of that, some use the freezing temperatures as an alternative to Botox, or “Frotox,” as John Hoekman, founder of QuickCryo, says. Applying cryotherapy to the face “decrease[s] pore size, reduce[s] puffiness and dark circles, stimulates collagen and elastin production, and lifts and tightens the skin,” Hoekman notes. At Hershesons in London, you can experience the signature (and only) Sunday Riley facial. You have a choice of three treatments depending on skin needs: Ice Lift, Ice Clear and Ice Express. The common denominator? Cryotherapy is used in each to reduce inflammation and redness.

What is cryotherapy treatment like?
The cryo facial treatment uses “cryogenically-cooled air of up to -160 degrees Fahrenheit” to target the complexion and help aid in the reduction of said symptoms. “The skin on your face is much more sensitive and the benefits max out at -160F,” which is why the temperature is kept so low Hoekman notes. Unlike traditional facials, a cryofacial is a quickie. It lasts up to 12 minutes and can be applied to a full face of makeup. But, there is so much more to a cryofacial — and cryotherapy in general — than a blast of cold air to the face.

The treatment itself uses liquid nitrogen vapor to super-cool the skin, which “triggers neuro-receptors to stimulate the flight response in our bodies, [which] hyper-circulates blood, distributes nutrients and enzymes, and flushes out toxins,” explains Hoekman. The process sets off “a domino effect of anti-inflammatory factors and endorphins, as well as lowers cortisol [aka, the stress hormone],” he adds.

Cryotherapy on the body requires a little more preparation. Before going into a cryotherapy sauna, you will strip down (women can go in nude, men should wear boxer briefs for additional protection) and cover your hands and feet with socks and gloves. Then, you will enter the ice sauna chamber and begin a treatment of up to three minutes. The biggest misconception of a cryotherapy session is that you will experience a freezing sensation — the cryotherapy air lacks moisture, which means that you will feel cool but not uncomfortable. All in all, the many cold sauna benefits are definitely worth a quick chill.

Cryotherapy vs. Infrared Sauna
In the case of cryotherapy vs. infrared sauna, one is not exactly better than the other. As it turns out, these two treatments work together to maximize health benefits. According to Kunin, the two treatments can be used synergistically. “Hot and cold therapies have been used together for centuries,” she notes. “Both have their own unique benefits and using [the] contrasting temperatures can improve treatment of pain and inflammation, boost your immune system, improve blood flow and muscle movement, and encourage a deeper detox,” she adds. The practice of alternating between cryotherapy and infrared sauna treatments is similar to that of winter bathing in Scandinavian countries — aka the mix of hot and cold therapy Kunin references — and both have the similar benefits, only the modern technology of infrared and cryo can enhance them.

That said, using these treatments back-to-back can counteract the benefits of each. “Artificially heating yourself back up with a sauna after cryotherapy is cheating yourself of the great benefits,” says Hoekman. So, while you can benefit from adding both to your wellness and beauty regimen, spreading out your treatments is the best way to reap their benefits individually and together.

“That is truly all you need to maximize the benefits and feel great,” says Kunin. “[But,] as with any therapy, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor if you believe you may have a contraindication,” she adds.


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I Spent 3 Minutes Inside a -264 Degree Cryotherapy Machine

“You may now start to hyperventilate and shiver uncontrollably,” I hear. Other than undergarments, I am wearing nothing but athletic socks and clogs on my feet, raw-wool mittens on my hands, and a post-concussive expression on my face. I am ensconced in a shoulder-height cauldron spewing nitrogen-iced air at minus-264 degrees Fahrenheit.  I’m about to try cryotherapy.

The woman talking is Joanna Fryben, co-owner of KryoLife, a year-old spot off Central Park South that specializes in whole-body cryotherapy — a three-minute treatment said to burn up to 800 calories, release an eight ball’s worth of endorphins, improve sleep, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, smooth wrinkles, and solve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Fryben is 40 — a Cameron Diaz 40. She has not been sick in four years, about the time it’s taken her to bring WBC from her native Poland (it’s popular and even covered by health insurance in much of Europe) to New York, where KryoLife is the only game in town.

But that may soon be changing. “When we opened our beta site in 2012, there were maybe six other cryotherapy centers in the U.S.; now there are at least 30,” Fryben notes. Dr. Aran Degenhardt, an integrative physician who’s referred chronic-pain patients to KryoLife, says he’s also noticed an uptick, “probably because there are more celebrities and high-profile athletes using it” — like Demi Moore and Kobe Bryant.

A framed article along KryoLife’s entryway touts Cristiano Ronaldo’s at-home cryotherapy chamber (the treatment, originally developed by a Japanese doctor in 1978 for rheumatoid-arthritis patients, has been more recently adopted by pro athletes seeking ice-bath-like recovery). But aside from jocks and joint-pain sufferers, Fryben’s broader goal is to target more self-help-inclined fools, like me, who have fit bands on their wrists and bone broth in their fridges.

A full minute into my deep freeze, I am neither hyperventilating nor convulsing, just feeling numb from the waist down. At these extreme temperatures, allegedly, the air no longer contains moisture, so cold does not penetrate the skin like it does in, say, Siberia; according to Fryben, three minutes or less in here is safer than a hot sauna. To distract myself from the cold that is penetrating, as I peer down from my perch inside what looks like an open-topped Coke can, I chat up Fryben like an undermedicated child: “Should I be standing very still?”; “Do you normally talk people through the three minutes?” I am short of breath. Words are coming out, but my face is not really moving.

And just like that, the three minutes are up. I emerge Godzilla-like from my enclosure feeling … wow, I did not expect to feel so great. I am gabbing relentlessly as Fryben guides me to an Airdyne bike, where I’ll spend the next five minutes warming up my muscles. My skin temperature has dropped to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and science would suggest (although major cryotherapy studies are still in short supply) that my body has incinerated calories in the quest to restore homeostasis.

“Those are the endorphins,” Fryben explains when I ask about my Mountain Dew rush. “You went into a stressful environment, and your body reacts in a way to protect itself. The immune system is boosted, the lymphatic system moves, the blood is oxygenated — enzymes and nutrients are delivered to every part of the body.” Degenhardt likens this fight-or-flight response to a runner’s high.

People I meet at KryoLife speak to various other benefits. An arthritic client named Nicola says the swelling and pain in her hands have gone down significantly since she started coming here (she does batches of ten sessions punctuated by three-month breaks, the recommended course for jump-starting the nervous system). Eduardo Bohórquez-Barona, a KryoLife associate and former caffeine addict, says, “I’m Colombian; we need coffee. But if I do cryotherapy, I’m energized all day.” I would compare my own state of whole-body awesomeness to the afterglow of a fabulous colonic, with an added kick of adrenaline and a tighter-seeming complexion; co-workers later tell me I look like I’ve just been skiing.

Still, I decide that I would be more inclined to shell out the $90 per session if this place looked less like that unmarked tanning salon I frequented in college. (Fryben assures me that a cushier KryoLife outpost is planned to open downtown in the months ahead.) And then, of course, there are the risks: I had to change into fresh socks pre-sauna because any lingering moisture could cause frostbite. And Degenhardt noted that passing out is a possibility if your blood pressure gets too high or too low. KryoLife gives all clients a medical questionnaire and blood-pressure check, but in short: ­Consult your physician before freezing.

When my biking is done, Fryben explains that she doesn’t mandate this post-­treatment exercise for on-the-go New Yorkers. “But if this were L.A. or somewhere you’d be getting straight into a car, that wouldn’t be safe for the joints,” she says. “Because your body, you know — it gets frozen.”

This article appears in the January 26, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.

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Cryogenic Chamber Therapy Has Some Serious Evidence That It Works Wonders For Recovery

Used by a laundry list of elite athletes including everyone from professional bodybuilders to olympians, UFC fighters, and even entire NBA teams, cryogenic chamber therapy is building a reputation as one of the most effective new recovery therapies currently available to athletes. With its growth in popularity WBC (Whole Body Cryotherapy) is becoming more accessible to the general public as more and more clinicians are adding chambers to their practices to use as a more effective alternative to cold water immersion or ice packs.

For bodybuilders? Quicker recovery means that you can lift heavy things more often. When you can prevent DOMS and quickly alleviate other aches and pains, that means you can train harder and more often with less downtime. But are these chambers the real deal, or just another fad?

What is cryogenic chamber therapy, anyways?

Cryogenic therapy is like The Jetsons equivalent to jumping into a garbage bin filled with ice water. Whole body cryotherapy was invented in Japan in the late 1970’s, but only started to gain traction stateside in the last few years with clinics opening up all over the country.

More and more weightlifters are starting to swear by it. A three minute session costs about as much as dinner for two at a mid-tier restaurant so you don’t have to be a pro athlete to afford it either, you just have to have your priorities in order.

How does cryotherapy work?

Once you’re inside the chamber, you’ll get a burst of nitrogen gas every thirty seconds or so. The freezing gas surrounds your entire body which causes your blood to rush away from your limbs and towards your core in an attempt to warm and protect your vital organs from an icy funeral. It puts you into survival mode, and fills your blood up with oxygen. When you step out of the chamber, your blood immediately rushes back to your arms and legs and you’ll feel a warm, almost tingly sensation. That means it’s working.

If you have a sports injury, whether it’s a contusion or a strain, the blood running to the core and then coming back to the limbs with oxygenated blood redevelops injured cells and helps you heal faster.

It’s no secret that ice and extremely cold temperatures help with recovery, the first thing you reach for when you hurt yourself is an ice-pack. Now imagine an ice pack for your entire body.

Quick facts:

The temperature of the nitrogen gas ranges from -166 F to -260 F.
The treatment lasts between 90 seconds and 3 minutes.
You are subjected to several short bursts of nitrogen gas, each lasting just a few moments.
Athletes report feeling much less sore in the days following an intense workout.
Notable fans of WBC include Usain Bolt, Steve Kuclo, Cristiano Ronaldo (Bought a chamber for his home), Kobe Bryant, UFC welterweight champ Johny Hendricks, and many more.
Notable Scientific Findings Related To Athletic Recovery:

Effect of whole body cryotherapy on the levels of some hormones in professional soccer players.
Whole body cryotherapy leads to a significant decrease in serum T and E(2), with no effect on LH and DHEAS levels. As a results of cryotherapy, the T/E(2) ratio was significant increased. The changes observed are probably due to cryotherapy-induced alternation in the blood supply to the skin and subcutaneous tissue, as well as to modulation of the activity of aromatase which is responsible for conversion of testosterone and androstenedione to estrogens.

Time-course of changes in inflammatory response after whole-body cryotherapy multi exposures following severe exercise.
Overall, the results indicated that the WBC was effective in reducing the inflammatory process. These results may be explained by vasoconstriction at muscular level, and both the decrease in cytokines activity pro-inflammatory, and increase in cytokines anti-inflammatory.

Cryotherapy effective for treating frozen shoulder
In patients with adhesive capsulitis (AC) of the shoulder, the addition of whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) to physical therapy and joint mobilization appears to be more effective than the latter two alone, research shows.
Indeed, patients receiving additional WBC achieved “clinically significant” improvements of over 20% relative to the physical therapy and mobilization group, suggesting it could become “the preferred treatment strategy,” according to Hyeong-Dong Kim (Korea University, Seoul) and colleagues.

There was even a study to determine if whole body cryotherapy (WBC) could be an effective treatment for anxiety. Despite a small sample size, the results were encouraging.

Continued on the next page…

Cryochamber vs Cryosauna

The difference between a cryochamber and a cryosauna is simple. With a cryosauna, your head sticks out of the top and you’re not completely isolated inside, as opposed to the chamber which you step into and it is sealed off. The chamber allows for a more uniform distribution of temperate, in other words your face will be freezing cold along with the rest of you.

Cryogenic Therapy in MMA

Joe Rogan (who we last mentioned when he was talking trash about modern bodybuilding) is an evangelist for cryogenic chamber therapy and has personally played a role in influencing many people to try it out for themselves, including UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub who said “I usually do ice baths between training sessions, but the set-up is such a hassle. Cryo is convenient and it brings my recovery to another level. Cold as hell, but it works!”

Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks says “3 minutes to make my body feel good? I’ll do anything for 3 minutes.”

For athletes in any sport, proper recovery is essential in order to prevent injuries. Preventing injuries means more training, and more training means better performance. Even if you aren’t an elite level athlete, cryogenic chamber therapy can help with reducing inflammation and pain.


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A blast of cold jump-starts fat burning and generates body heat

Looking for a silver lining in the cold that’s gripping much of the country? The next time an icy blast of wind cuts through your flesh, remind yourself that it is also stimulating the growth and activity of brown fat, the so-called good fat that burns calories and produces heat.

Located in your chest and back, brown fat’s job is to protect your vital organs which, in winter, means giving you a way to generate additional heat for them. It’s more prevalent in newborns and hibernating animals, whose need for warmth is greater, but researchers discovered about five years ago that adults have some, too.

In contrast to white, or “bad,” fat, which stores energy as those bulges you’re trying to eliminate at the gym, brown fat is full of mitochondria, the glucose-burning power plants of cells, which give brown fat its color. People with more brown fat tend to be leaner and have lower blood sugar levels.

It takes a little time in the cold to crank up the brown fat, but temperatures don’t have to be down at the Polar Plunge level. When researchers exposed people to temperatures of 59 to 60 degrees for two to six hours over 10 consecutive days, they found immediate increases in brown fat activity. In another study, men who slept in rooms for a month at 66 degrees increased their brown fat and its activity by 30 percent to 40 percent. When the night-time temperature was raised to 80 degrees for another month, their brown fat stores declined below baseline levels.

This information has intrigued researchers who wonder whether stimulating brown fat might help in the battles against obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

How does this work? In a study released Thursday, University of California, Berkeley, researchers said they had identified the protein critical to the formation of brown fat. Exposure to increased levels of “transcription factor Zfp516” helped mice gain 30 percent less weight than other mice when both were fed the same high-fat diets. They also found that it helped “brown” that nasty white fat, though other researchers did not report this result.

In an interview, Hei Sook Sul, who led the research, said that in the laboratory, the same process worked on human cells, though the process has not been tested in humans themselves.

She said it’s impossible to determine how long an individual needs to be in the cold to kick-start the process, but recommended giving it a try at safe exposures.

“Get out,” said Sul, a professor in the university’s Department of Nutritional Science and Toxicology. ” The more you do it, the more energy you will lose.”

Originally posted at the Washington Post


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Cryotherapy: Why Pro Athletes Like It Chilly

The traditional ice bath isn’t so cool anymore. These days, professional athletes are opting for a treatment that sounds more like sci-fi torture: whole-body cryotherapy.

Here’s how it works: You stand in a cylindrical chamber for about two and a half minutes. Hyper-cold air is released all around your body, bringing the temperature down to as low as 300 degrees below zero.

It’s a similar concept to an ice bath, but the benefits, many athletes say, are far better. Texas Rangers’ pitcher C.J. Wilson is a regular, and several members of the Dallas Mavericks credit this year’s NBA Championship win in part to their cryotherapy treatments. One athlete compared it to standing in a giant Red Bull can with your head poking out.

Eric Rauscher is the managing director of Millennium Ice, a company that manufactures whole-body cryotherapy chambers in the U.S.

“We’re taking skin-surface temperature to 30 degrees in less than a minute,” he says. “The body literally gives up trying to regulate skin-surface temperature, instead drawing the blood to the core to protect the core.”

When the blood is in the core, Rauscher says, it picks up oxygen and nutrients, since the body “feels like it’s in massive distress.”

“It’s really not,” he adds, “but it feels like it.”

At the end of the 2.5-minute session, the brain figures out where to send the blood first.

In the case of the Dallas Mavericks players, he says, fatigued leg muscles were getting oxygen-rich blood. “They were stepping out of the device essentially with instant recovery effects.”

Rauscher has tried cryotherapy himself. He says he’s been using it every other day over the course of a month. “Although it’s cold, it’s not that excruciating cold that an ice bath feels like.”

Rauscher says his own company spent months monitoring athletes and looking for the placebo effect.

“Every single athlete that we worked with told us that it produced a change, it produced a recovery like they hadn’t felt,” Rauscher says. “You’ll see this in training rooms around the country.”

Original Article posted at


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How going in a -130 degree chamber could help your body…

To most people being in a -130 degree chamber like structure for three minutes doesn’t sound so appealing, but if you have some muscle aches and pains, inflammation in your body or even some extra pounds you want to shed, maybe you should think again.

Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is a holistic wellness solution that enables the human body to recover and rejuvenate itself naturally. During cryotherapy, the body is exposed to extremely low temperatures (for one – three minutes) to trigger the body’s most powerful mechanisms of self-protection, self-recovery and self-rejuvenation.

Thrive CryoStudio in Rockville, Maryland specializes in Cryotherapy. The studio has seen over 1,400 clients and has conducted over 5,000 cryotherapy sessions. I sat down with owner Brandon Yu to get the 411 on what cryotherapy is and the science behind this new craze.

How does cryotherapy work? 

Whole Body Cryotherapy uses ultra-cooled nitrogen gas application to lower the client’s skin temperature to 30 degrees fahrenheit for one to three minutes. At first, your body reacts like it normally would if you were standing outside on a cold day, by increasing circulation in your body to try and warm your body up. After about 45-60 seconds, your body realizes that it’s not doing an effective job of warming up, due to the continuous nitrogen vapor hitting your skin.

Next, as the thermoreceptors in the skin send messages to the brain and central nervous system the body goes into “Survival Mode” by sending hyper-oxygenated and nutritious blood via vasoconstriction to the body’s vital organs in its core. After exiting the ultra-cooled environment, the body begins to warm to its natural temperature and vasodilation occurs, sending the oxygenated and nutritious blood back out to the body’s periphery. This process provides the body with extra nutrients, rids the body of toxins, produces collagen, and activates the body’s natural cell regeneration cycle to produce newer, healthier cells.

What are some of the benefits?

As this is a holistic wellness treatment, there are a wide ranging amount of benefits to cryotherapy, as long as the client sticks to their recommended treatment plan. We like to group the benefits into three main categories:

Sports & Fitness:

  • Accelerates muscle recovery
  • Increases energy
  • Reduces muscle soreness and inflammation
  • Relieves tendonitis pain
  • Improves muscle strength and joint function
  • Quickens recovery time from injuries
  • Increases athletic performance

Health & Wellness:

  • Reduces inflammation in the body
  • Helps relieve back pain, joint pain, knee pain and general pain and tightness throughout the body
  • Alleviates symptoms of arthritis, Lymes disease, fibromyalgia
  • Reduces effects of skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema
  • Reduces severity of migraine headaches
  • Increases blood circulation and provides a quicker recovery time from surgeries and physical therapy

Mind, Mood & Beauty:

  • Increases metabolism and burns calories (between 500-800 calories)
  • Promotes better quality sleep
  • Increases endorphin levels and boosts mood
  • Increases collagen production and reduces the appearance of cellulite
  • Accelerates weight loss (with proper diet and exercise)

How should your body feel immediately after, an hour or two after, and about 24 hours after?

Cryotherapy is not a magic pill, so individuals should not expect to feel “like a new person” or a huge dramatic difference after their first session. However, after a single session, clients can expect to feel a bit looser and relaxed. They might even have temporary relief from some minor pain they were experiencing (for more consistent pain, it’ll take multiple sessions). Additionally, clients can expect to fall into one of two buckets on how they’ll feel the rest of the day. They will feel either 1) super energized and feel like they’re ready to take on whatever comes their way during the day, or 2) they’ll feel super relaxed, calm and even may want to take an afternoon nap. Both of these responses are normal. Additionally, clients may notice a much better nights sleep the night of their cryotherapy treatment.

With regards to benefits that are more noticeable, on average it takes about eight sessions for a client to feel a “noticeable” difference in their pain levels, muscle recovery, etc. As I mentioned, it’s not a magic pill, but if done consistently, most of clients have seen tremendous results!

How often do you recommend someone get cryotherapy?

The recommended frequency for someone to get cryotherapy honestly varies from person to person and condition to condition. At Thrive CryoStudio, we really take the time to listen, educate and consult each client that walks into the door to recommend a tailored cryotherapy treatment plan for his or her condition. We also monitor their progress and how the client feels after each cryotherapy session in case we need to tweak their frequency. With that being said, we have some clients that come everyday and others that come once every two weeks.

Who is the ideal candidate for cryotherapy?

Many people associate the use of cryotherapy with professional athletes or even on “The Real Housewives” because that’s where they’ve seen it. With that being said, most of your everyday people can benefit from cryotherapy. For the high school athletes to the middle-aged runner, cryotherapy will greatly benefit them in their muscle recovery, while reducing inflammation in their joints from the wear and tear they’re putting on their body.

Also, for those individuals that are suffering from nagging neck, back, hip, knee or any other pain, cryotherapy will greatly benefit them.

Any risks clients should be aware of? 

Cryotherapy can raise your blood pressure. We check all clients’ blood pressure immediately prior to each of their sessions and will not allow them to proceed if their blood pressure is too high. In addition, clients must keep their heads and chins up while in the cryotherapy tank to avoid breathing in the nitrogen fumes which can cause lightheadedness. At Thrive Cryostudio, a therapist is with our clients throughout their treatment session, constantly engaging them in conversation to ensure they don’t experience any adverse side effects. If there is any concern, the treatment is stopped immediately.

What’s one misconception about cryotherapy you’d like people to understand?

Cryotherapy is not a magic pill. Its benefits are wide reaching and include everything from weight loss to pain management to improved sleep, anxiety and skin. However, while many clients have a post-treatment euphoria and a report increased energy after only one session, it typically takes several sessions to reap the greatest benefit.


Story by TINA IRIZARRY – Originally posted at

Cryotherapy: Is it the coolest thing in sports medicine?

I am standing inside an upright tank, my head sticking out the top. I’m wearing skivvies, booties and glovies. A dry-ice-like fog of liquid nitrogen wafts, swirling under my chin. The temperature is quickly dropping, on its way to a brisk 190 degrees below zero.

Questions arise in my mind. Will I survive the full three minutes, or will I tap out? The tank has an escape door, but what if it freezes shut? Was there a fur-lined cup they forgot to have me put on? I’m trying to keep a stiff (but not frozen) upper lip, I don’t want to become known as the guy who put the “cry” in cryotherapy.

“Here we go,” says Amanda, the cryo tank operator, cheerfully. Gleefully? “Three minutes!”

I wonder if that’s what they said to Ted Williams, whose head is cryogenically frozen in a tank in Arizona. What if my family learned I have a terminal disease, but they don’t want to tell me, and this is their way of tricking me into being frozen until a cure is found?

They say the Kentucky Derby is “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Cryotherapy, at least the first time, is the most exciting three minutes.

Am I overdramatizing? Probably.

Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) is increasingly popular and, as far as my research shows, without serious risk. Athletes love the treatments. Warriors Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston get tanked. Several A’s are users, and Jalen Richard, the Raiders’ second-year running back and kick returner, told me that roughly one-third of the Raiders use WBC. The Raiders as a team have open accounts at several Bay Area cryo studios.

WBC is not new. It was developed more than 30 years ago by a Japanese fellow seeking an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. In recent years it has become a full-blown fad in sports, for elite athletes and weekend warriors.

In theory, WBC works like an ice bath, but (some say) better. Three minutes in the cryo tank knocks down inflammation and speeds healing of sore muscles and assorted injuries.

Commercial cryo spas, along with touting the anti-inflammation aspect, claim user benefits such as weight loss, skin and hair rejuvenation, anti-aging, sleep enhancement, metabolism boost and a natural buzz.

These spas claim that rather than freezing your assets off, you will freeze your liabilities off.

Maybe, maybe not. The website Skeptoid said in 2014, “P.T. Barnum would be proud of cryosauna and cryotherapy. Save your money.”

The same website did allow that WBC, in treating sore muscles and inflammation, is at least as effective as ice baths and cold-water swims, albeit more expensive. Are the skeptics too skeptical? The jury is out. The FDA does not endorse or monitor WBC.

But what many athletes believe they find in cryotherapy is a safe, fast and effective treatment for pain and inflammation. If ice bags strapped to knees are effective post-workout treatment, why not a super-duper-cold dry-ice-down quickie for the whole body?

“When I go in now and I’m real sore, there’s definitely a soothing feeling,” said Richard, who gets his cryo on several times a week. “It’s more soothing and relaxing to me than it is freezing cold,” like ice baths are.

Richard can recite the alleged scientific theory behind cryo. Basically, the intense cold tricks your brain into survival mode. Heavier blood flow is directed to the body’s core, sending extra oxygen and nutrients to the brain and other organs. Once you escape — uh, emerge — from the cryo tank, the blood immediately starts returning to the skin and extremities, accelerating (allegedly) cell renewal in the skin.

The process also (allegedly) releases endorphins, boosting your mood.

“When I get out of there,” Richard said, “within a couple of minutes I start feeling great, like I’m brand new all over again.”

For the sake of journalism, I decided to give it a whirl. My wife had been gifted a three-week course by a co-worker, and she passed it along to me. I went nearly every day. I’m probably not a good guinea pig, since I’m not a stressed and battered athlete. I do have rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s controlled by meds, so if cryo did help knock down my RA, I wouldn’t really feel it.

Still, let’s see what it’s all about. By coincidence, for a week before the first treatment, I suffered a bout of sciatica, a nerve condition that made it painful to sit in a car or at a desk.

There is a fear factor — call it trepidation — as I approach my first treatment. Later, Richard told me he was nervous the first time, too. I don’t want to chicken out. When you soak a sore foot or ankle in ice water, the cold can be intense and painful. What if it’s like that over my whole body, and I wimp out?

Inside the storefront studio in Walnut Creek I am instructed to step into a dressing room, strip down to undershorts, put on gloves and rubber booties, and a robe. Then I step into the cryo chamber, hand Amanda my robe, and she cranks up her high-tech ice-cream churn.

It is cold almost instantly. But at no point is there a painful, whimper-inducing shock, like a plunge into a cold ocean. It’s minus-190 or so, but hey, it’s a dry cold.

Amanda engages me in small talk, which definitely helps. Then, “Halfway there, doing OK?”

Diversion is the key. I try to come up with a Cryotherapy All-Star team. I get George “Iceman” Gervin, Red “The Wheaton Iceman” Grange, the old Pirates infielder Gene Freese, Vida Blue, Larry Burright, Stone Cold Steve Austin, J.T. Snow, Cool Papa Bell and Chili Davis.

Every 20 seconds or so Amanda instructs me to take a quarter turn. To get a nice, even blue skin tone, I guess.

The last minute is the coldest, but my overcoming-childish-fear endorphins are kicking in and I know I’ll make it.

“All done,” Amanda says, hitting the kill switch. The robe goes back on, I step out, Amanda shoots a laser at my leg to register skin temp.

Am I now desperate to sprint to the nearest hot tub, sauna or hot-chocolate dispenser? No, once out of the tank, I feel fine. No lingering cold.

What about the cryo-buzz from that endorphin stampede? Again, I’m probably the wrong guy. I don’t get endorphin rushes from exercise. But now I do feel energetic and wide awake.

Driving home, I notice that I am sitting with little discomfort. About a week later the sciatica symptoms are gone. Coincidence? I don’t know.

Within a few days I work up to Level 3, Ted Williams’ neighborhood. Richard told me that he not only does Level 3 but that he also jacks the temp even lower by having the attendant pre-cool the chamber. I did that once, and it got my attention. The last 30 seconds, I went to my Lamaze breathing.

Does cryotherapy work? Is it a miracle cure? Other than the sciatica relief, I seemed to feel a little less creaky in the joints, and a bit energized after the sessions. If not miraculously healed, I felt way cooler.

Story by Scott Ostler – Originally posted at


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