Cold Water Immersion is not new; athletes have been soaking themselves in 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit water for decades to help with soreness and recovery. The latest version uses futuristic cryotherapy equipment that subjects people to temperatures as low as – 182 to – 290 degrees Fahrenheit (source).
Anecdotal evidence seems to show decreases in muscle soreness and an increase in energy perhaps caused by the release of endorphins. The therapy is also touted as burning hundreds of extra calories per sessions as your body fights to keep your temperature up. Most scientific studies show limited benefits from the therapy, but testing and modifications to the therapies continue.
Cryotherapy – Real Cold – Real Benefits
Runners and other endurance athletes have been known to use cold-water immersion by filling tubs of ice water after a race. Many have extolled the pain and inflammation reducing benefits after a grueling workout. Now you can go to a cryotherapy center and pay for the privilege of being blasted by liquid nitrogen in a cryo-chamber for three minutes sessions. The refreshed or energized feelings many people report after the sessions is not merely a placebo effect. The release of endorphins that gives you an emotional boost is real, but this is a short-lived and minor benefit of the therapy (source).
As you enter the cryosauna/cryochamber, the sudden drop in heat stimulates the temperature receptors, prompting the brain to transmit messages throughout the body. When you exit the chamber blood is pumped vigorously around the body, which in turn enhances the oxygen supply and removal of toxins. The cold also triggers the nervous system to release feel- good endorphins plus the body natural anti-inflammatory reaction to extreme cold results in a pain reduction (source).”
Immersed in Controversy
Doctor Chris Bleakley and other sports scientists acknowledge there are some limited benefits of cyrotherapy, but argue it “…doesn’t have a significant effect on other measures of sporting performance.” Cold water immersion seems to be a marginally helpful ergogenic aid most useful for recovery from acute soreness and swelling.
The Portland Blazers have a different take on Cryotherapy saying,
“Just came from CryotherapyUSA. Athletes you haven’t experienced cold until you do that. Cold tub ain’t got nothing on it. Feels great after.”
Cryotherapy has picked up some steam in the NBA over the last few years. By the looks of the sign in the background, the Blazers visited US Cryotherapy in Roseville, Calif.The company is located just outside Sacramento, where the Blazers will face the Kings in a preseason game on Monday night (source).
You should decide for yourself whether it’s right for you since the average person will likely see limited benefits. However, it’s more than enough for professional athletes looking for any edge to help them perform at a higher level. People suffering from arthritis pain have reported good results from the therapy, but average trainees probably won’t get much from using it every day.