Cold therapy has been used medicinally for thousands of years, the benefits include quicker muscle recovery, increased collagen production, reduced inflammation and enhanced sleep, to name but a few. The physical and mental health benefits of frequent exposure to cold are numerous. Extreme sports person, Wim Hof, (known as the ice man) has credited his super-human feats to cold therapy and gained an international following. As increasing celebrities and top athletes such as Andy Murray, link their health and performance to cold therapy, we take a closer look into some of the health benefits.
As we’ve mentioned, cold therapy is nothing new. In fact, the history of ice-bathing dates back to between 460 and 370 BC, where Hippocrates, a Greek physician and one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine, is often credited as being the first person to document the health benefits of hydrotherapy. Recently discovered records going back as far as 2500 BC have shown that Ancient Egyptians also used cold therapies to treat injuries and inflammation.
What makes cryotherapy different?
Today, traditional cold therapies such as ‘ice baths’ are often replaced by Cryo cabins or chambers. A Cryo cabin or chamber exposes you to extremely cold temperatures for a short period of time with the help of liquid nitrogen. One of the key ways that cryotherapy differs from traditional ice baths lies not only in the difference in temperature (cryo chambers can reach temperatures of -130 Degrees Celsius) but also in the difference between ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ cold. ‘Wet cold’, the sort you might expect in a traditional ice bath or plunge pool decreases our blood flow as our body reacts to the temperature in an attempt to protect the heart. ‘Dry cold’ works the opposite way, and encourages an increase in blood flow in the body. The thermal shock we undergo during cryotherapy resorts our body to open its ‘internal pharmacy’ and a wide range of life-supporting enzymes and hormones are produced into the blood circulation.
Why try cryotherapy?
1. It can improve sleep
When your body is exposed to the extremely cold temperatures in whole body cryotherapy, your body produces hormones that are directly related to sleep and relaxation. The intense sensation of cold will trigger your body to release the endorphin norepinephrine, which helps you feel relaxed. This also acts as a mild sedative to help relax you and, in turn, help you get better sleep at night. It’s thought that cryotherapy can effect your mood, level of energy and ability to focus, and your sleep-wake cycles so many have reported that they sleep more soundly at night.
2. It can improve mood
The ultra-cold temperatures in whole-body cryotherapy can cause physiological hormonal responses. This includes the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and endorphins. This can have a positive effect on those experiencing mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Often when people leave the cryotherapy chamber, they report a feeling of elation, and recent studies have shown that whole-body cryotherapy was actually effective in short-term treatment for a number of mood disorders.
3. It can improve our metabolism
Exposing the body to sub-zero temperatures can boost the metabolism, burn calories, and help attack stubborn “brown” fat. The outcome is improved body composition, helping people to meet both performance and aesthetic goals. Mr Sebastian Kunz, medical director at Lanserhof at The Arts Club and consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, confirms that “post-workout, cryotherapy stimulates muscle recovery by reducing inflammation in the body and encouraging regeneration at a cellular level. It is one of the most effective ways for an athlete to recover after intense exercise”
4. It improves sports performance and recovery
The low temperatures involved in cryotherapy increase the firing capacity of the muscles as well as also increasing the level of endorphins, known as happy hormones, for a feel-good effect whilst promoting a rise in anti-inflammatory proteins for joint pain. It helps reduce tension in tension-prone areas such as the neck and shoulders or major muscle groups at risk of overuse injuries. This can reduce recovery time, minimize pain, and reduce the risk of strains or injuries. This is why cryotherapy is useful for athletes looking to reduce the rest time required for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) as well as those looking for an aid to pain management.
5. It’s thought to help with the ageing process
Cryotherapy can stimulate and rejuvenate not just points of inflammation, water retention and injury, but it may also boost metabolism, increase collagen production, skin rejuvenation and decrease the signs of ageing. Reports have shown that hair, skin and nail quality can improve, blemishes can be reduced, and water retention will reduce.
As we age our metabolism gradually slows, toxins can build up and collagen beneath our skin slows production leaving skin feeling less supple. Cryotherapy sessions can help with these natural signs of ageing with a simple and easy mini surprise of intense cold temperature, that can cause the mind and body to respond to oxidative stress.
It’s important to remember that lifestyle factors such as environment, diet and exercise have the biggest effect when it comes to anti-ageing and weight loss.
The Pure Package is proud to be working with our partners at Lanserhof at the Arts Club, through offering tailored nutritional advice to members who would like to discuss their health goals.
At The Pure Package, we believe that feeling and looking great starts with the food we eat. Our award-winning team of chefs and experienced nutritionists combine science and research with innovative cooking to create balanced meals that help you feel energised and happy in your body. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, support your training regime, slow the signs of ageing or boost health and nutrition in pregnancy and beyond, we can help you reach your goals with healthy, nutritionally balanced meals, delivered straight to the door.