The use of ice (cryotherapy) has been used to treat various conditions for centuries. Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) is now the latest trend and has become a very popular recovery and treatment tool. First built in Japan in the 70’s, it’s only recently become popular in the USA over the past decade. But what exactly is it and what does it do?
WBC involves standing in a chamber (see below) where you become exposed to cooled air that’s been cooled anywhere from -166F to -300F. There’s refrigerated walk-in chambers (cooled air) or liquid nitrogen systems (cooled nitrogen gas). You wear minimal clothing (socks, gloves, ear muffs, underwear, and sports bra for women) and stay in for no more than 3 minutes at a time to prevent hypothermia.
Research is just starting to accumulate, but WBC has demonstrated numerous positive benefits. It’s been shown to:
- Have anti-analgesic effects
- Have anti-oxidant effects
- Stimulate an anti-inflammatory response
- Via reduced inflammatory mediators (IL-1β) and increased anti-inflammatory mediators (IL-10 and IL-1Ra)
- Enhance thermogenesis
- By stimulating irisin expression that acts directly on adipose tissue
- Affect hormone levels
- Decrease cortisol levels and increase testosterone levels
- Prevent exercise-induced inflammation and soreness
Since WBC does constrict blood vessels, there are contraindications and it is not for everyone. This includes:
- Circulatory & Cardiovascular diseases
For a full list of contraindications click here!
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Written by Dr. Brandon Buchla, DC, CSCS
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