For the sake of their health‚ some people are using liquid nitrogen vapour to expose themselves to temperatures as low as -160°C.
“Cryotherapy was developed in 1978 by Dr Toshima Yamauchi of Japan for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis‚ chronic pain and inflammation‚” says Eugene Pienaar‚ founder and CEO of CryoLiving in Cape Town‚ the first company to offer cryotherapy treatments in South Africa.
“In Europe alone‚ there are about 400 whole-body cryotherapy facilities in various hospitals, and about 12000 physiotherapists offer localised cryotherapy.”
Cryotherapy (also referred to as cryostimulation) is not the same as the normal icing of an injury. Ice baths cool down the body, slowing down the blood flow, enzyme activity and cellular metabolism. This makes it ideal for acute or new injuries.
But cryotherapy‚ which stimulates only the top level of the skin (and is‚ therefore‚ nowhere near as unbearable as might be expected)‚ has the opposite effect. “Your body registers this extreme cold and wants to compensate by creating heat from within‚” Pienaar says.
“It does so by speeding up your cellular metabolism‚ which also has a profound effect on your blood flow.
“With the additional blood flow‚ you get additional oxygen and nutrients. This is great for areas that are known not to get good blood flow‚ like joints‚ tendons‚ and cartilage. And this makes it ideal for speeding up the recovery process.”
The whole-body cryotherapy process involves spending up to three minutes in a cryosauna.
Cold receptors in the skin interpret the stimuli and communicate to the hypothalamus‚ an area of the brain responsible for thermal regulation.
Blood vessels and capillaries shrink‚ which moves blood away from the peripheries to protect the core internal organs. After the treatment‚ vessels and capillaries expand by up to four times‚ causing blood to flow back to the extremities so that the body can rebalance itself.
“You also get a release of beta-endorphins – your body’s natural morphine – which makes you feel fantastic and causes a powerful analgesic [pain-relieving] effect. And because it’s so cold‚ it reduces your nerve conduction velocity‚ which in itself reduces pain as well.”
He believes the best results come from several sessions over a period of time. As the body adapts to the intense stimuli‚ it becomes less sensitive.
Cryotherapy has a wide range of applications. These include sports recovery and improved performance‚ treating inflammatory diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis‚ multiple sclerosis‚ and fibromyalgia)‚ autoimmune diseases‚ depression‚ anxiety and more.
With celebrity supporters ranging from Cristiano Ronaldo and Daniel Craig to Jennifer Aniston‚ it’s not surprising that there have been two million treatments around the world.
“One thing that affects people most is inflammation‚” says Pienaar‚ who first discovered cryotherapy while looking for a drug-free treatment for his intractable insomnia.
“Whether you’ve got a mild issue or a serious disease or are simply stressed‚ all of that is linked to inflammation.”
Pienaar singles out a man who has polymyalgia rheumatica‚ an inflammatory disorder that causes muscle pain and stiffness.
He’s seen great results after about 10 exposures and doesn’t have to take his anti-inflammatory medication on the days he comes in for cryotherapy because the effect is the same.
By EUGENE YIGA on January 15, 2016 in Daily Life, News
This article originally appeared on: http://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/cryotherapy-speeds-up-healing-process/