Cryotherapy is the revolutionary -170°C treatment credited with taking the Wales rugby squad to the peak of physical fitness by exposing them to extremely low temperatures.
The treatment has been used and heralded by a range of numerous successful sporting people including Tony (AP) McCoy, Mark Webber and Jessica Ennis, Premier League players including Spurs and England trio Jermain Defoe, Ledley King and Michael Dawson, Arsenal and England winger Theo Walcott, Olympic skier Chemmy Alcott, IndyCar driver Mike Conway and World champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis.
GB’s Mo Farah uses a Cryocabin to aid post-race recovery.
Welsh Centre Scott Williams explained “I’ve never experienced anything like this in terms of training, the intensity is immense and it wouldn’t be possible to do the volume that we have been without the Cryotherapy, which in itself is an amazing experience”.
Adam Beard, the WRU’s head of strength and conditioning: ‘The Cryotherapy allowed me to do a lot more of those training sessions very quickly. Some players say that cryotherapy reduces their recovery time after a game by up to a day. That effectively gives us an extra day to work with during the week, which is a big advantage for the coaches.”
If cryotherapy can produce such results, why is everyone not doing it? “It takes time for the research to catch up before it becomes more accepted,” Beard said. “I think it will become common, but it would be nice to think that we were at the cutting edge.” says Beard.
The therapy is said to stimulate blood circulation as well as fire the hormone and immune systems, releasing endorphins to kill pain and reduce inflammation.
The treatment is used by sportsmen and women to hasten the speed of muscle recovery from exercise, and it increasingly forms part of an intensive rehabilitation programme for top-level athletes.
Whole Body Cryotherapy vs. Ice Bath
The Ice Bath has been regularly used in professional sports today for the rehabilitation of athletes with injuries. But the Ice Bath affects the body in a completely different way than does the Cryosauna, which has now been shown to be much more beneficial with no negative side effects. The differences are huge.
- First, during the 15-20 minutes of ice bathing, tissue freezes quite deep and frozen muscles temporarily lose capacity. Muscle tissue then needs time to return to normal which requires the body to rest after the Ice Bath.
In contrast, the Cryosauna does not actually freeze muscle tissue. It only creates a powerful illusion that the body freezes. Accordingly, the athlete may use the Cryosauna to increase performance before a workout and recover after a workout which is an effect that is impossible with an ice bath.
- While in the Ice Bath, the body is struggling with actual, unrelenting, penetrating physical cold (not just the signals from skin cold sensors in Cryosauna, and it’s dry and prickly sensation);
- while in the Ice Bath, oxygen supply to the skin surface is interrupted, and it can cause skin surface injury. While in Cryosauna the signals are sent from the skin sensors to brain about this new, perceived as dangerous environment and so to keep the peripheral parts of the body warm, blood vessels and capillaries undergo severe vasoconstriction to keep the body’s core temperature from dropping, triggering enrichment of blood and sending it to internal organs under higher blood pressure.