January 19, 2023
Your body has temporary physical reactions to cold—goosebumps, chattering teeth, maybe a jolt of adrenaline from the sudden chill—but did you know that cold may also have more long-lasting health benefits? That’s the idea behind cryotherapy, a popular wellness practice that involves using extreme cold to help treat depression, chronic pain, fatigue, and other ailments.
Curious about cryotherapy? Wondering how the heck to create an ice bath at home? Read on for the health benefits, history, and tips for trying cold therapy on any budget.
Cryotherapy refers to using freezing water or air to help improve a person’s health. In some cases, cryotherapy could look like taking an ice bath; in others, it could involve standing in a cryotherapy chamber, which is cooled to anywhere between -150° to -230° degrees Fahrenheit.
While the research into cryotherapy’s effectiveness is still ongoing, using cold to treat sore muscles and other aches and pains certainly isn’t new. Many studies show that cryotherapy aids in muscular recovery after exercise or injury, and it may also have other health benefits.
The ancient Egyptians used cold in their medical treatments for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. In Finland, where the sauna is thought to have originated, it’s a longstanding wellness practice to end a hot sauna session with a plunge into an icy lake.
While cryotherapy as we know it today—in the form of fancy facial gadgets and freezing chambers powered by computers—is still quite new, cold therapy at its most basic has been used for many thousands of years in surgery, to treat injury, and even as a mindfulness practice.
The term cryotherapy involves any type of cold treatment, from chambers that target the whole body to treatments on more localized areas, that offer a number of reported benefits. In recent years, you may have heard about it on your favorite wellness podcast (or from the self-proclaimed “Ice Man”, Wim Hof). Here are some of the most well-known cryotherapy benefits:
If you don’t have access to an ice bath or the funds for a cryotherapy chamber, don’t sweat it. Here are some easy, affordable, and accessible ways to get the benefits of cryotherapy using resources you likely already have.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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