4 Reasons Athletes Love Cryotherapy

baseball player diving catchby Dr. Matthew Kenney

If you’re a fan of the HBO show “Hard Knocks” or of Fox Sports’ “The Ultimate Fighter” you’ve probably seen in recent episodes athletes using whole body cryotherapy. This form of therapy is becoming increasingly popular across the country. Today I’d like to share four reasons why this is the case.

 

1. Decreased muscle soreness. If you’ve ever worked out intensely you are familiar with how sore your muscles can get from exercise. For elite athletes, this can impact your ability to train intensely on consecutive days. For weekend warriors or beginners, this soreness may keep you from coming back at all. Whole body cryotherapy instantly alleviates muscle soreness by reducing inflammation. This allows you to recover quickly and continue your training.

 

2. Decreased joint pain. Whether it’s running, football, tennis or any number of different sports; there will be repetitive stresses applied to your joints. This causes inflammation which leads to pain. Whole body cryotherapy removes this inflammation which in turn reduces or even eliminates these joint pains. I ran an ultra-marathon last month that had me running for 8 hours up and then down a mountain. I woke the next day and hobbled around like an old man (which I normally do for about 3-5 days after such a race). After a single 3-minute cryotherapy session later that morning however I had zero joint pain. That is how powerful the results can be.

 

3. It works but doesn’t hurt. Personally, I enjoy ice baths and standing in snow in frigid temperatures with nothing but shorts on (Wim-Hof training). I feel it gives me physical and mental benefits that I enjoy. The problem is though, few people feel the same as I do or are willing to do these things. Whole body cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to cool within the cryo-sauna. What this means to you is that it will be cold but not piercing or uncomfortable like an ice bath would. Even at -180 to -280 degrees Fahrenheit our clients are still able to carry on a comfortable conversation without technician as they have their treatment. Even athletes that are completely averse to cold usually love whole body cryotherapy and use it without discomfort.

 

4. Convenience. Following along with #3, many cryotherapy treatments such as ice baths or ice packs take a relatively long time (20 minutes or more) before they will provide even a small amount of relief. Whole body cryotherapy provides a much colder yet brief exposure to cold resulting in much more meaningful results in a fraction of the time. I get more relief from a 2-3-minute cryotherapy session than I do with a 20-minute ice bath and those results are typical. Athletes love the convenience of being able to feel better and recover quickly without having to spend tons of time doing so.

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