Our bodies are amazing machines and we sometimes forget about the many complex processes that take place during the day it does to protect it and to keep us healthy. Cryotherapy truly is a remarkable therapy that is simple yet very effective. By super cooling areas of the body, it sets off your body’s own natural thermoregulatory response so that your body does its own healing; making it a safe, non-invasive therapy and unique to your own needs.
The 7 physiological responses that happens during Cryotherapy:
- Thermoregulation: Your body is exposed to temperatures ranging between -120 °C and -160 °C with liquid nitrogen vapour for 30 seconds up to three minutes. The hypothalamus, which is responsible for the extremely complex process of thermoregulation, responds to the extreme cold in an effort to protect the body and especially its core temperature. It does so by activating a long list of physiological responses.
- Vasoconstriction & vasodilation: The body constricts all the blood vessels and capillaries in the skin (vasoconstriction) to reduce cold transfer. By doing so, all this blood rushes to the body’s core. With such an extreme change in the body, the body always seeks to create balance (homeostasis) again. In this case after the session, the body expands the capillaries and vessels by up to 4 times their normal diameter through a process called vasodilation. This increases blood flow to such regions by up to 4 times. This in itself offers host of benefits, such as:
a. Improved circulation in regions suffering from poor blood flow, like cartilage and tendons
b. Increased oxygenation and enzyme activity
c. Creating an improved healing environment
- Metabolism: As the skin is cooled at such a rapid rate and to such an intense degree, the body works very hard to compensate by creating heat from within. This is achieved by revving up the metabolism on a cellular level. It therefore creates a very powerful stimulatory effect which again allows for an improved healing environment.
- Anti-inflammatory response: The body’s white blood cells secrete small proteins (cytokines), which are used in cell signalling and ultimately affect the behaviour of other cells. These proteins can be either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. During Cryotherapy, pro-inflammatory cytokines are decreased and anti-inflammatory cytokines are increased. This causes a powerful anti-inflammatory response throughout the whole body. Unknown to most, inflammation is a major issue amongst even relatively healthy people; often high levels of inflammation can lead to chronic diseases.
- Pain signal adaptation: The cold exposure drastically reduces the body’s ability to communicate pain signals. After multiple sessions, the body adapts its perception to pain stimuli. It’s for this reason that patients suffering from chronic pain, such as with Fibromyalgia, have reported astounding improvements.
- Reduced oxidative stress: The body’s total anti-oxidative status is increased. The body achieves an improved ability to eliminate free radicals, naturalise toxins and repair cellular damage. This process can lead to a powerful anti-ageing effect.
- Hormones: Another mechanism the body employs to protect itself is to release an array of hormones. One of them is Beta endorphin which causes people to experience a sense of euphoria and deep relaxation. There is also adrenaline and cortisol which makes individuals alert. In men, studies have suggested an increase in testosterone is achieved. It’s partly due to the hormonal responses that athletes have achieved significant benefits from the treatment.
Benefits of Cryotherapy
- Decreases chronic pain
- Decreases chronic inflammation
- Reduces lymphoedema
- Improves anti-oxidative status in the body
- Improves peripheral circulation Improves post-operative recovery
- Improves muscular fatigue and spasm
- Decreases muscle spasm and spastic paresis
- Skin is tightened and firmer
- Blood and nutrients stimulates collagen
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