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Help or Hype: What’s the deal with cryotherapy?Published:
If you’ve ever sprained your ankle, you’re familiar with the uncomfortable-but-effective use of ice to minimize inflammation and help yourself heal faster. So, at first glance, cryotherapy makes a ton of sense, right? If a little cold helps, a lot of cold could make a big difference. At least, in theory.
What is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a treatment that applies intense cold to either certain targeted areas or the whole body. Whole body cryotherapy seems to be the more popular option, and why not? If you’re going to go through the discomfort of being cold, you might as well get all the benefits, right?
During a whole body cryo session, you stand in a tank for anywhere from two to five minutes. The tank is filled with a cold, dry nitrogen vapor and the temperature drops to well below freezing. It’s like an ice bath on steroids, except it’s actually more comfortable because 1. It’s quick and 2. You’re not wet.
Cryotherapy claims it can help with a pretty long list of issues. Specifically, studies have looked at its ability to:
- Relieve muscle pain
- Help muscular injuries heal
- Reduce inflammation
- Spur weight loss
- Prevent and treat cancer
- Treat mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety
- Treat migraines
- Improve athletic performance
Does cryotherapy work?
Here’s the thing. Cryotherapy is new. Like, super new. Google pictures of the whole body cryo chambers and you won’t be surprised that they’re a recent invention. They look like something out of a sci-fi movie.
All this to say, yes, some of the studies have shown some early evidence that cryotherapy can make a difference, especially in minimizing inflammation. (Remember the whole reason we use ice packs?) But it’s way too early to say if cryotherapy can really deliver on all it’s promising.
And here’s the other thing. It’s not cheap. A session can run you anywhere from $20 to $80. So if you’ve got the money to spare and want to check it out, we’re not going to stop you! But, for now, the jury’s still out on how well cryotherapy works. We would always recommend consulting your physician to see if it is right for you.
While we wait, we’re probably just going to stick with our ice packs.