When you think of cryotherapy, you likely imagine those freezing-cold full-body ice chambers. And while whole-body chambers are one way to receive cryotherapy, the term itself means cold therapy. For example, when you use an ice pack for an injury or headache, that is also considered cryotherapy. Today, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of whole-body cryotherapy, also known as WBC.
What Is Whole-Body Cryotherapy?
During whole-body cryotherapy, you expose your body to vapors at temperatures between negative 200 and negative 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The exposure to these vapors lasts anywhere from two to four minutes, either while standing in a tank-like device with your head sticking out or by entering a chamber where your head is exposed and is big enough for multiple people to experience the therapy.
The Benefits of Whole-Body Cryotherapy
Whole-body cryotherapy has been touted as a way to cope with skin conditions, pain, inflammation, blood-related diseases, and more. Below are some findings on the potential benefits of WBC.
Pain Relief: A 2017 study showed that whole-body cryotherapy is associated with improvement in muscular tiredness and pain within one hour, 24 hours, and 48 hours specifically after strenuous exercise.
Reduced Inflammation: Studies from 2018 and 2019 showed that whole-body cryotherapy could help lower the level of inflammation due to injury or diseases such as arthritis. While it doesn’t heal you, it can ease existing conditions.
Decreased Anxiety: An early 2008 study showed that participating in whole-body cryotherapy could help with depressive and anxiety disorders. Based on the results, there was a 50% decrease in the severity of symptoms for half of the study group within a three-week cycle – a significant decrease from the control group who did not receive WBC.
Risks of Whole-Body Cryotherapy
Although there has been some proof of benefits to whole-body cryotherapy, there are also risks and side effects to consider. For example, when you expose your body to freezing temperatures, frostbite, rashes, (which can lead to blistering) can occur. WBC can also aggravate health conditions such as neuropathy, lung disease, and heart disease.
It’s also important to note that whole-body cryotherapy has not been cleared or approved by the FDA. Before using WBC to treat a condition you are dealing with, be sure to consult with your doctor to discuss the pros and cons. You want to be sure you’re not causing more harm than good.
Be sure to share with us any experiences you’ve had with whole-body cryotherapy in the comments below!