If a treatment involving being submerged in freezing cold air for a few minutes doesn’t sound appealing to you, you’re not alone. I don’t like the sound of that either. But what if I told you said treatment had a whole bunch of benefits to it? Then it might sound a little more manageable.
What is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a treatment where you are put into a chamber and exposed to liquid nitrogen that is set at a temperature between -120C to -160C. But don’t worry, you’re only on there for 30 seconds to 3 minutes, tops. And you have gloves, socks and earmuffs to protect yourself from frostbite.
During this time, a lot of things are happening within your body. One of the first things to happen is an increase in blood flow. This occurs due to your body trying to reheat itself. The blood vessels and capillaries will expand to 4x their normal diameter! Along with the increase in blood flow, your cells will get much more oxygen and enzymes.
Quickly after your blood flow increases, B-endorphin hormones increase as well. This is your bodies natural pain killers, and give a pain relieving effect throughout the whole body. Also, after multiple treatments, the body will adapt it’s perception to painful stimuli. Along with the pain relieving aspects, there is a muscle relaxation aspect that takes place as well.
Soon the anti-inflammatory response begins as the pro-inflammatory cytokines decrease and anti-inflammatory cytokines increase. The body is also able to handle oxidative stress much more efficiently as well. The body can eliminate free radicals, repair cellular damage and neutralize toxins.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Benefits for MS
On top of all of these general benefits, there are specific benefits that have been noted for the MS population. Many people and studies have found that Cryotherapy has been helpful with:
- Reducing muscle spasticity
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing fatigue
- Reducing pain
- Improved quality of life
- Improved mood
- Improved sleep
- Improved stress tolerance
That’s a pretty good list if you as me! However, one of the drawbacks is unfortunately the cost. They can be pretty pricey treatments depending on where you live. But, this is something you can DIY at home before you head out to your nearest Cryo chamber.
Try this at home for similar benefits: a cold shower. No, not the whole entire shower. But at least the last few minutes. You can work up to it too. For the last minute or two, try alternating hot to cold (or as cool/cold as you can go). Eventually you’ll be able to work up to colder and colder, and you’ll get many of the same benefits.
Let me know how it works for you if you give it a go!