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Why Is Whole Body Cryotherapy More Beneficial Than An Ice Bath?

The Ice Bath has been regularly used for decades in professional and other levels of sports training for the rehabilitation of athletes from injuries and/or heavy training routines or workouts. But the Ice Bath affects the body in a completely different way than does the Whole Body Cryotherapy, which produces more benefits with no negative side effects.

First, during the 15-45 minutes of Ice Bathingthe cold temperature has enough time to penetrate quite deep in the muscles which temporarily lose much of their capacity. The muscle tissue requires time to return to normal requiring the body to rest after the Ice Bath. So regardless of the time of day when the Ice Bath takes place, the athlete cannot go back to practice until the next day. In contrast, Whole Body Cryo Therapy does not actually freeze muscle tissue, it only creates a perception by the brain that the body is at risk for freezing. Therefore, only 5 or 10 minutes after Whole Body Cryotherapy, an athlete can retunn to work out or perform, re-energized and able to make full use of the remainder of the day.

Next, the body’s reaction to cryotherapy temperatures (temperatures lower than -166˚F) in the Cryo device is radically different from its reaction to low temperatures while submerged in the Ice Bath. The biggest difference lies in the fact that, when gradually cooled in an Ice Bath, the body attempts to send warm blood from the core to the peripheral parts to maintain warm skin surface. This is because while in an Ice Bath, the body is struggling with actual, unrelenting, penetrating physical cold (not just signals from skin cold sensors). This process continues, while the body tries to generate sufficient heat to maintain warmth in the peripheral body parts. When the heat is no longer enough, the muscles start to constrict and freeze, beginning at the skin surface and continuing inward to the body’s center. For this reason, longer stays in the Ice Bath can cause hypothermia that can lead to death, as it is very difficult to stop this process once begun.

But in the cryo device, the skin surface reaches a temperature of almost 32˚F in just 30 to 40 seconds while the circulating temperatures around the skin reach -170˚C (-274˚F) (this is impossible in an Ice Bath where the temperature of the ice water coming into contact with the skin temperature cannot drop lower than 32˚F ). The signal sent from the skin to the brain during Whole Body Cryotherapy about the new critical environment is so powerful that the brain understands immediately that it is impossible to keep the peripheral parts of the body warm. Instead, blood vessels and capillaries undergo severe vasoconstriction to keep the body’s core temperature from dropping, triggering the processes described previously which include enrichment of blood and circulating it to internal organs under higher blood pressure. This never happens in an Ice Bath.

Lastly, while in the Ice Bath, oxygen supply to the skin surface is interrupted, and it causes skin surface injury that can promote skin disease if the procedure is length or is often repeated. During Whole Body Cryotherapy, the gaseous form of nitrogen is mixed with air meaning that even during the 2.5 to 3 minute treatment period, the skin surface is still surrounded with a certain amount of oxygen.

In conclusion, this brief explanation of the Biochemical Level aspects of the Whole Body Cryotherapy process is presented from a scientific rather than a medical point of view. Although a number of medical studies have been completed in Europe and Asia, the Whole Body Cryotherapy in the U.S. is not classified as a medical treatment modality.

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