With the introduction of whole body cryotherapy to the U.S. in 2011, more and more pro sports franchises and college athletic departments are flushing ice baths in favor of cryotherapy. Why? Let's dive into the key differences between whole body cryotherapy and ice baths:
Ice Bath: Your body is submerged in icy water for 15-20 minutes, during which your body attempts to keep the skin’s surface from freezing by sending warm blood from the core to the peripheral tissues. When the body can no longer heat enough blood, the cold begins to penetrate tissues and muscles and blood viscosity thickens, resulting in stiff muscles and tendons. Overexposure can result in muscle tissue damage and even hypothermia in severe cases.
Whole Body Cryotherapy: Your body is in a dry, cold air sauna for 3 minutes. When your skin receptors sense the sudden change in temperature, your brain realizes it cannot fight this extreme cold so it shunts blood supply to the extremities in order to protect the body’s core temperature. As the blood recirculates through the cardiovascular system, it is cleansed of inflammatory enzymes and toxins and replenished with oxygen, nutrients and red blood cells. Upon exiting the chamber, your body undergoes rapid vasodilation, sending the enriched blood back to the peripherals and brain.
Thus, Cryotherapy is:
Quicker: Whole body cryotherapy is 3-minute session vs. an ice bath for 15- 20 minutes of bath time (plus prolonged warm-up time).
Cleaner: No more sharing with other bodies, sweaty or otherwise!
More comfortable: Painless, invigorating dry cold air vs. shocking, penetrating and painful cold ice water.
More effective: Systemic cleansing and enrichment of blood vs. systemic cooling of muscles and connective tissues. What this really means to you is:
- Releases endorphins--You “feel” good
- Increases collagen production--Your skin “looks” good
- Accelerates metabolic rate--You “burn more” calories
- Enriches blood--You “elevate” your well-being—naturally!