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What Is Cryotherapy? What Are The Effects Of Cryotherapy? And Can It Help With Weight Loss?

If you’ve ever taken a hot, relaxing bath before, chances are good you felt the beneficial effects. Your muscles loosened, your stress level decreased, and if you took it before bed, it may have even helped you fall into a deeper sleep faster. All great things as far as you’re concerned. But, what if you…

Full length portrait of nurse opening the door of cryosauna, with woman in bathrobe at the clinic. Female going for cryotherapy treatment in freezing cabinet.

If you’ve ever taken a hot, relaxing bath before, chances are good you felt the beneficial effects. Your muscles loosened, your stress level decreased, and if you took it before bed, it may have even helped you fall into a deeper sleep faster.

All great things as far as you’re concerned.

But, what if you add some cold water into the mix? What if you envelope your body in a bath of icy water and then follow that up with the hot relaxing water experience you’ve come to know?

That is, essentially what takes place when you utilize cryotherapy treatment. And, it may not come as too much of a shock if you’re heard some of your favorite athletes stating they use cold showers as a tool for recovery.

What is all this hot and cold treatment all about?

Check out the video below for more information on cryotherapy and to see how it works and some of the key benefits it may have to offer.

Let’s look further into what cryotherapy is, who it can benefit, and some important details you need to know about the process.

What Is Cryotherapy?

In a nutshell, cryotherapy is a hypothermic application that has been designed to help lower the level of muscle and joint pain in the body while also decreasing overall levels of inflammation.

Cryotherapy works on a central nervous system level as it stimulates the skin receptors as you are immersed in cold water, air, or in some cases, nitrogen.


When this happens, you get a very intense level of peripheral vasoconstriction, which shuttles blood towards the organs of the body. In the process of doing so, it also is excellent for reducing inflammation states in the body, acting as an analgesia to help reduce the sensation of pain, and can also kick-start the level of tissue repair taking place on a cellular level.

For those who are injured or need to speed up the healing process in any way, they are likely to find that they can achieve this through proper cryotherapy methods.

This treatment protocol as first originated back in 1978 by the name of a doctor called Dr. T. Yamauchi, who was a rheumatologist in Japan. He started utilizing the treatments as a means of treating his patients to help relieve some of the pain they were experiencing.

After noting how well it was working on these subjects, he concluded that in addition to reducing inflammation associated with the disease, it was also causing the release of a rush of endorphins, which triggered a decrease in the pain response.

How Is Cryotherepay Done?

There are many ways that one can implement cryotherapy in their life depending on the end result they want to achieve. The most intense form of cyrotherpay involves the use of a nitrogen sauna, where the individual is placed inside a sauna that contains nitrogen gas rather than air.

This is done because the body can withstand much lower temperatures when immersed in nitrogen compared to air, to the tune of -220 to -274 degrees Fahrenheit. You simply could not achieve this in air thus the effects of cryotherapy would not be as strong.

Note that you don’t stay in this environment for long as the treatment duration is kept to just two to three minutes in length.

If you don’t have access to a cryosauna that utilizes nitrogen, you can create a similar concept using hot and cold water. This can be done using the shower or if you prefer, a combination of the shower and a bath.

You’ll simply fill the bath with very hot water and then jump into an ice cold shower (or alternatively, simply switch on/off between the cold and hot water in the shower).

This process of going back and forth between the two – hot water and cold water creates some of the effects that can be seen with cryotherapy. As the cold water will never approach the temperatures you’d get with the nitrogen sauna, this can alteration between hot and cold can help make up for the lack of very cold temperature to produce similar results.

What Are The Effects Of Cryotherpay?

So what are the effects and benefits of using cyrotherapy?


First, it’s a great means to help detoxify the body. As you bring the blood first to the surface of the skin (through the hot temperature) and then to the internal organs (through the cold temperature), you are essentially flushing out the body and helping move lymph around.

Lymph is the substance the body utilizes to help remove toxins and built up waste, so by enhancing this system, you are essentially creating a very powerful detoxification system.

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 Reduced Inflammation

The next big benefit that cryotherapy has to offer is lowered levels of inflammation in the body. Now this can help out on a short-term basis such as if you just finished a very intense workout and created this inflammation on a microcellular level (as your muscle tissues have been damaged and now need to undergo the repair process), or it can be beneficial on a longer term basis such as if you are suffering from an inflammatory based condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.

As inflammation is one of the leading causes of disease and discomfort in today’s world, this proves to be particularly exciting news for the cryotherapy practice. As it can effectively minimize inflammation it can prove to be a means of potentially treating these conditions, and if not, at the very least decreasing the pain and discomfort associated with them.


Athletes in particular are drawn to cryotherapy for this reason and as we noted above, you will often hear about high level athletes using contrast showers as a means to help them recover faster from their hard training sessions.

Decreased Muscle Pain

In addition to lowering the amount of inflammation present in the body cryotherapy may also be beneficial for helping to lower the amount of post workout muscle soreness as well.

If you typically wake up hardly able to move the next day due to the workout that you put in the day before, cryotherapy could help you find relief from this.

This can then help you get back to your training sooner again, putting in the high level of work needed to achieve optimal performance levels.

Improves Joint Function

Those who are utilizing cryotherapy on a regular basis may also note that it can help to boost their overall joint function, reducing any pain or swelling that may be present.

This can benefit both athletes as well as everyday individuals who may be suffering from chronic cases of back or knee pain over a prolonged period of time.

Improved Immune Response

Another interesting benefit that cyrotherapy has to offer is improved immune response. Athletes who are training hard for their sport are often compromising their immune function with each intense workout they put in.

Over time, their immune system takes a beating and before not too long, they may find they’re burnt out and overtrained.

By participating in cyrotherapy however, they can help build their immune system back up so its stronger again, allowing them to better tolerate the high stress loads that come from ongoing intense physical training.

For the every day individual, this will also be beneficial as the stronger your immune system is, the less likely you are to fall ill to the common cold, virus, or even suffer from disease.

If your immune system is down, your body becomes that much more vulnerable to health problems.

Energizing Benefits

If you’re feeling a little fatigued, a quick session of cryotherapy may do the trick to get you back feeling better again.

Many will report feeling highly energized after this treatment, notably thanks to the rush of endorphins that come with the emersion in such a cold environment.

It can be a great way to wake yourself up on days you’re feeling sluggish and tired or can be used as an aid for athletes who are preparing for a big event and want to ensure they are both physically and mentally on top of their game.

Depression And Mood Disorders

Cryotherpay may also help to treat those who are suffering from depression and/or mood disorders. One study published in the Achivum immunologiae et therapiae experimentalis noted that when whole body crytotherapy was administered to patients that were suffering from depressive and/or anxiety disorders, after three weeks of treatment, the baseline rates of the severity of symptoms they were experiencing were down by at least 50%.

This provides new hope on another natural treatment method for those who are suffering from these conditions. Far too often doctors are quick to prescribe anti-depressant medications, which can come with a number of unwanted side effects.

Contrast that to cyrotherapy, which will offer a number of potential benefits along with treating the condition in the first place.

Assistance With Treating Numerous Diseases And Conditions

Cyrotherapy is also often used to help treat a number of diseases and conditions. Some of these conditions include fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain syndrome, as well as, as noted above, rheumatoid arthritis.

While cyrotherapy may not be able to fully heal these conditions, it can certainly help minimize the symptoms associated with this condition.

Cellulite Reduction

While the big benefits to know about cyrotherapy involve the health improvement benefits it has to offer, this doesn’t mean it can’t help you on an aesthetic side of things as well.

More and more salons are bringing this treatment to their service offerings as the results being seeing from it are quite dramatic.

health, people, bodycare and beauty concept - close up of woman

Topping the list of potential benefits one can get from cyrotherapy is cellulite reduction. If you have the unwanted appearance of dimply skin on your upper thighs/buttocks region, underarms, or around your waist, cyrotherapy may help to minimize this giving you the smoother looking skin you’ve always wanted.

Healthier Hair And Nails

Cyrotherapy can also improve the look and feel of your skin and nails as well. Those who use this treatment on an ongoing basis report stronger hair and nails that aren’t as brittle and prone to breakage.

It may also help improve the shine of your hair, improving its overall appearance.

Increased Libido

If your libido level isn’t what it used to be, cyrotherapy may even be able to help with this as well. As it does help boost circulation in the body, and circulation to the sexual areas of the body are key for improving libido levels, you can quickly find improvement in your libido when utilizing cyrotherapy.

Increased Calorie Burn And Weight Loss

Finally, one last big benefit to know about cyrotherapyis that it may even help provide weight loss assistance.

Cryotherapy weight loss occurs because when you place yourself in this extreme cold environment and get that powerful endorphin release and central nervous system shock, you’ll dramatically boost your resting metabolic rate.

Man, measurement tape

This, in turn, leads to greater overall levels of calorie burning. One single session of cryotherapy can burn around 500 calories. Given that there are 3500 calories in one pound of body fat, you’ll quickly see your weight drop by doing one session daily every day of the week.

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For those who are struggling with conventional diets or who simply want to get an edge on their results, cryotherapy may offer promising hope.

So as you can see, there are a great many benefits that cryotherapy can offer. Almost everyone will find some benefit in doing it, either right now or in the future.

The Process Of Using A Cryotherapy Sauna

You might be wondering what the process of using a cryotherapy sauna involves. What will the treatment process look like?

In most cases, you’ll be required to wear dry socks with a slipper or sandal on your feet as you enter the sauna. On top of that, you’ll also typically wear cotton gloves on your hands and some form of cotton, dry undergarment. The rest of the body should not be covered, and you should ensure all jewelry and watches are removed. Nothing should be on your body except for the above-mentioned undergarments.

Despite the fact that you are going to extremely cold temperatures with cryotherapy, it is well received by just about everyone, even those who would label themselves as very cold-intolerant individuals. While you will definitely feel cold while undergoing the treatment, it is not going to be unbearable or uncomfortable. Also keep in mind it is a very dry cold feeling, so quite different than a wet cold feeling would be. Also given the fact you are only in the sauna for 2-3 minutes total, this also lends well to it being tolerated.

Most people will report feeling cold during the session and can’t wait to get warm again, while others may experience some light ‘pins and needles’ towards the end of the treatment.

This will pass however once they are out of the sauna and back at normal room temperature.

The only side effects that can be noted in some individuals from this therapy have to do with the actual sauna itself. This includes feelings of claustrophobia (as you will be closed in a small space) as well as anxiety. If you suffer from severe anxiety or know you are claustrophobic, you may want to reconsider using cryotherapy as a treatment method.

It should also be noted that in some cases, conditions such as cold sores may break out due to the activation of the immune system. Once again, however, this is quite rare and, all in all, a relatively minimal side effect.

How Many Sessions Are Needed?

How many total sessions of cryotherapy you need to do to get adequate treatment will all depend on what you are trying to achieve and how well your body is responding to it.

The general recommendation is to go for 5-10 treatments in a relatively short period (going once per day or every other day) initially and then see how you react to that.

If you are an athlete who is looking to boost their performance and speed their recovery, this might be something you do a few times a week on an ongoing basis in order to ensure that you are reaping the benefits throughout your training.

Often if this is the case at hand, the athlete may use a cyrotherapy sauna a few times a month to really get that deep level of recovery and decreased levels of inflammation and then simply use a contrast shower approach on a daily basis as they go about their workout program.

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If, on the other hand, you aim to reduce the symptoms of a condition you are experiencing, you may choose to use the therapy every few months or so – or as needed based on when your symptoms tend to flare up. Often those who are looking to find relief from disease may need to utilize the sauna to really see maximum benefits, as the strength of the contrast shower may not be enough.

So there you have the facts to know about cryotherapy and the many different benefits it has to offer. Many people who could really benefit are not currently making use of this treatment, therefore it’s important that you start considering and it want it might be able to offer you.

Have you had any experience with cryotherapy or contrast showers before? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.

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  1. Derek Mcdoogle on August 3, 2016 at 3:29 am

    My brother was in an accident and has been trying to recover from his injuries. You mentioned cryotherapy offers lowered levels of inflammation in the body. I didn’t realize there were therapies that could speed up recovery. Do most doctors recommend cryotherapy? I wonder where the local specialist is that could provide this option.

    • Wade Lightheart on August 14, 2016 at 10:04 am

      Just about every top athlete in the world is using cryotherapy to reduce inflammation. It’s amazing. Most doctors have no idea about this kind of think. Sports Doctors. But GP’s etc. They’re not trained for these type of things. Go get your brother in it… It will make a huge difference.

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