If you’ve heard of cryotherapy before, you’ve likely heard some falsehoods among the facts. Click here to debunk some cryotherapy myths you may have heard.
What do Jennifer Aniston, Will Smith, and the New York Knicks have in common?
They all swear by cryotherapy.
Have you heard about this chilly practice? Have you heard a lot of conflicting information and aren’t sure what to believe?
Never fear! We’re here to dive deep into the many cryotherapy myths to discover what you need to know about this increasingly popular practice.
What is Cryotherapy?
While the word cryotherapy literally means cold therapy and could be used to refer to any type of cold therapy, many people use the term to refer to whole-body cold therapy.
Cryotherapy is a technique where for several minutes your body is exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
The process of receiving cryotherapy includes entering a chamber that encloses the body and usually has an opening at the top for the individual’s head. Inside the enclosure, the temperature drops down as low as between -200 and -300 degrees Fahrenheit for two to four minutes.
Proponents of cryotherapy believe that engaging in this chilling therapy has a number of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and pain, helping with mental disorders, supporting exercise performance and recovery, and improving joint function.
Myth Busting: 7 Cryotherapy Myths
What are some cryotherapy myths? Let’s take a look at the misinformation about cold therapy and get a handle on cryotherapy facts.
1. Cryotherapy Is Just for the Pros
While some high-level athletes use cryotherapy up to twice a day, that doesn’t mean you have to be a professional to gain the benefits of cryotherapy.
No matter who you are, vigorous workouts cause the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles as well as tiny injuries to your tissues and muscles.
For this reason, people are increasingly using cryotherapy post-workout to help with their fitness recovery.
2. Cryotherapy Is Just a Fad
Another one of the myths about cryotherapy is that it’s just a trend that will pass quickly.
While whole body cryotherapy is newly popular in the United States, the first whole body cryotherapy (WBC) chamber was built in the late 1970s in Japan for managing the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. The practice was introduced to Europe in the 80s.
Using cold therapy as a treatment for illness in a localized way goes back as far as 2500 BC in ancient Egypt. During this time, cold therapy was used to treat inflammation and injury.
In 400 BC, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates documented that cold exposure could benefit pain, bleeding, and swelling.
3. Cryotherapy Is Unsafe
While it’s important to follow the safety procedures while undergoing cryotherapy, when done properly cryotherapy is not considered to be unsafe.
Since you’re in the extremely low temperatures for such a short period of time, there isn’t enough time for the cold to penetrate your skin deeply. There is therefore very little risk of lowering your core body temperature too much or getting frostbite.
4. Cryotherapy Is Not Backed by Research
While there is a lot more cryotherapy research to be done, the notion that there is no science supporting its benefits is one of the false cryotherapy myths.
One study found that WBC has a positive effect on mood disorders such as depression and anxiety as both a short-term treatment. This is most likely because WBC can cause the release of hormones like endorphins, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
A review of the literature on WBC found that the majority of evidence supported the claims that WBC can relieve the symptoms of a wide range of inflammatory conditions resulting from athletic activity.
5. Cryotherapy is Painful
Contrary to this cryotherapy myth, the therapy isn’t painful. Rather, people who undergo cryotherapy tend to experience it as a shock or as an exhilarating rush.
Since the extreme cold only lasts for a few minutes, the cold temperatures don’t penetrate your body deeply or cause sensations of pain.
6. Cryotherapy Doesn’t Work
While WBC research is still in its infancy, there are a lot of people who swear by the practice.
Cryotherapy is not only for the rich and famous, but many pro athletes and celebrities have been known to use WBC chambers. The fact that the most elite athletes in the world use this therapy indicates that there’s probably something to it.
Athletes like Floyd Mayweather, Lebron James, Steph Curry, and Usain Bolt have used cryotherapy post-training. Celebrities like Tony Robbins, Hugh Jackman, Justin Bieber, Mandy Moore, and Jennifer Aniston have also used cryotherapy.
WBC chambers have been used for decades in Japan and Europe, and have only recently become popular in the United States in the last decade. While it might seem like a brand new thing that everyone’s talking about, people around the world have been sharing their anecdotal experiences with the benefits of cryotherapy for over forty years.
7. Cryotherapy Will Burn You
Cryotherapy won’t cause burns on your skin if you follow the appropriate safety procedures. Burning only occurs if you or your clothes are wet.
It’s vital that you wear the proper safety attire and that the clothes you’re wearing when entering a cryotherapy chamber are completely dry.
Don’t be Fooled by Cryotherapy Myths
There’s a lot to still learn about cryotherapy and its benefits, but much of the negative information you hear about cryotherapy simply isn’t true. It’s always a good idea to do your research before trying something new, and of course, you should talk to your doctor before undergoing any new therapy or exercise plans.
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