Is Cryotherapy Good for Sore Muscles After Working Out?
Many people experience post-workout soreness, especially if they have pushed their muscles to the extreme.
Even minor workouts can cause some degree of pain and stiffness in the muscles.
How often have you seen an athlete soaking in an icy cold tub after a major game?
Before engaging in the topic of cryotherapy, it is important to first understand what it is and how it works.
What Is Cryotherapy?
The literal meaning of cryotherapy is cold therapy.
This treatment exposes the body to extreme cold for several minutes.
It can be delivered to one specific area or the entire body, depending on the need for treatment.
Cryotherapy can be administered in multiple ways.
These may include ice packs, ice baths, coolant sprays, and cryotherapy probes.
There are multiple benefits of cryotherapy, including the following.
- Cryotherapy helps to numb irritated nerves. When athletes become injured, doctors can place a small probe in the area, effectively numbing the nerve and stopping pain. This therapy can be used to treat acute injuries, pinched nerves, and chronic pain.
- Whole-body cryotherapy can be used to treat arthritic conditions that plaque individuals of all ages.
- This therapy can be used to stop migraine headaches at the source. By cooling down and numbing the nerves in the neck area, migraine sufferers can experience major relief.
- One study proved whole body cryotherapy was beneficial in offering temporary relief from anxiety and depression.
Cryotherapy is beneficial for sore muscles after a workout because it reduces swelling, pain, nerve stimulation, blood flow, and secondary tissue death.
When entering a cryotherapy chamber, liquid nitrogen is used to bring the body temperature down rapidly.
The body goes into survival mode and moves blood volume from the extremities to the core.
As a person is removed from the chamber, their body starts heating up again and blood flow rushes back to the extremities.
This rebound effect delivers nutrient-rich blood back to the muscles and joints, offering healing properties that help people recover from muscle soreness.
Is Cryotherapy the Same as an Ice Bath? What Are the Differences If Any?
Although an ice bath is technically considered cryotherapy, the two are not entirely the same.
Are there benefits to doing cryotherapy over taking an ice bath? in the body?
Cryotherapy is superior to ice baths for the following reasons.
- If you soak in an ice bath, you are going to need to stay in there for about ten to twenty minutes, or even longer. Cryotherapy only takes around three minutes to be finished with the treatment.
- Cryotherapy uses dry cold to treat the body, whereas an ice bath uses wet cold. Study after study has shown wet cold can cause muscle tissues to start to congeal, which causes the healing process to take much longer.
- Ice baths require a recovery period, and cryotherapy does not. You can have cryotherapy before or after a workout, but an ice bath can only be done after because you need time for your normal muscle function to return.
- Finally, cryotherapy temperatures get much lower than an ice bath. At best, an ice bath will only get to about -50 degrees. Cryotherapy gets as cold as -184 degrees.
Cryotherapy is much more beneficial and convenient than long soaks in icy water.
It is faster and there is no downtime, so you could receive treatment before working out and feel amazing.
Cryotherapy offers the following benefits after a workout.
- Reduced recovery times
- Reduced inflammation
- Pain relief
- Muscle healing
- Improved flexibility
- Reduced swelling
Is Cryotherapy Painful?
Aside from wanting to know about its effectiveness, people who are new to cryotherapy treatments also want to know if they will feel pain.
For the most part, cryotherapy chambers do not cause any pain at all. You may experience some degree of strange sensations, but you will not be in the chamber long enough to experience pain.
When someone goes into the chilly chamber for the first time, they may feel a tingling sensation. Your head stays out of the chamber and you are dry the entire time, so it is not like you are being exposed to ice.
Those who have gone into a cryotherapy chamber mostly report they enjoy the sensation.
The treatment is so fast, most people wish it could go on longer.
You can expect to feel invigorated by the cooling blast.
If you have been interested in cryotherapy, but have been worried about the pain, fear not.
You will find these treatments make you feel better and more energetic after a workout than you ever imagined.
Can You Lose Weight with Cryotherapy?
If you are focused on shedding those excess pounds, cryotherapy may be beneficial for you in multiple ways.
Some people seek cryotherapy sessions for weight loss.
This therapy helps to destroy fat cells when used as a targeted approach.
The fat cells are sucked to the surface of the skin and then frozen, which causes them to be destroyed. Once destroyed, the fat contents are broken down by the liver.
Full-body cryotherapy has also resulted in positive weight loss experiences.
This is backed by science.
A study carried out in 2013 revealed individuals who were exposed to at least two hours of colder temperatures (62 F/ 17C) saw a 2% reduction in overall body fat.
Scientists say cryotherapy is beneficial for weight loss because brown adipose tissue is activated and burns fat to make energy while the body is exposed to the cold.
Cryotherapy for weight loss is most effective when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. Because you recover much faster after a workout, with cryotherapy, you can exercise more, which offers higher weight loss benefits.
Although cryotherapy is beneficial, it is important to note those with nerve damage caused by diabetes should not receive cryotherapy without a doctor’s advice. Nerve damage could prevent you from feeling the cold and overdoing a session, especially if you are attempting a DIY approach. For the best results, always seek these treatments from a highly-trained cryotherapy therapist.
Do Ice Baths Increase Testosterone?
Ice baths and cryotherapy chambers have now become synonymous with buff athletes. Those who desire to increase their testosterone levels may want to take note.
Unfortunately, a man’s testosterone levels can begin to decline as early as their twenties. Testosterone helps to increase growth hormone production, which is essential for producing muscle gain. If testosterone levels are lacking, it may be more difficult for a man to get good gains.
We have already discussed how cryotherapy and ice baths can help with muscle recovery, but what can they do for your testosterone levels?
Recently, sports scientists at Swansea University were able to confirm that ice baths do help to increase testosterone production. The male subjects in the study were first given the task of completing a tiring sprinting session.
The subjects in the study were then exposed to low-temperature extremes. The scientists discovered the subjects experienced a large spike in testosterone levels that continued for twenty-four hours.
As stated before, your body goes into survival mode when exposed to extreme temperature lows. To prevent muscle loss, the body releases a burst of cold-shock proteins. As a side effect, testosterone production goes into overdrive temporarily.
Thankfully, you do not have to shell out big bucks to get the benefits from expensive cryotherapy sessions. An ice bath is sufficient for fooling your body into producing more testosterone, which will in turn help you increase muscle mass.
Conclusion – Cryotherapy for Sore Muscles
Cryotherapy was invented in 1978 by a Japanese medical doctor by the name of Toshima Yamauchi.
With advances in cryotherapy, treatments are more readily available than ever before.
It is now common for gyms to offer cryotherapy chambers and ice baths for post-workout treatment.
These treatment options make recovery after a workout much easier and less painful.
If you are new to cryotherapy, there is no reason to fear treatment. It is not painful and does not feel uncomfortable.
You can undergo a complete treatment in around three minutes. You should not be in treatment any more than five minutes and should not seek cryotherapy if you have any nerve damage.
Cryotherapy has been proven to help people recover much faster after working out.
It stops muscle soreness, reduces inflammation and swelling, and can even help you with weight loss, especially around the waist.
Try it and see how cryotherapy works to treat your sore muscles quickly.