What is cryotherapy?
Whole body cryotherapy (WBC) is an alternative to cold water immersion or ice packs. This treatment involves exposing individuals to extremely cold dry air (below -100 °C) for two to three minutes.
Whole body cryotherapy was initially intended for use in a clinical setting to treat patients with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, and although WBC is provided in over 50 European hospitals and medical clinics, it has now been implemented in many spas, and athletic training facilities as well; Elite athletes have recently reported using the treatment to alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise. Recently, recreational athletes have started to emulate elite athletes in using these treatments after exercise. Reductions in muscle and skin tissue temperature after WBC exposure may stimulate cutaneous receptors and excite the sympathetic adrenergic fibres, causing constriction of local arterioles and venules. Consequently, WBC may be effective in relieving soreness, or muscle pain, through reduced muscle metabolism, skin microcirculation, receptor sensitivity and nerve conduction velocity. There is also a body of evidence to suggest that WBC stimulates the autonomic nervous system (ANS).