With the current fads of pursuing longevity and youthful appearance, more and more people are searching for the best solution to better their health. Of course, the market offers various ways to achieve that – some ways more efficient than the others, but what is becoming a leading trend is using cold – “a sound, proven, age-old technology 3.” Scientists are constantly proving the efficiency of this relatively easily-accessible method. But the questions arise – which method is better: cryotherapy and ice bath? What are the differences? Let us have a look at them.

University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland describes ice baths or “cold water immersion [as a method which] has become popular among sportsmen and women to cool strained muscles in order to recover faster, compete again sooner and to train harder.[1]” This solution had been in use for a very long time until cryotherapy entered the stage. The university calls cryotherapy “a step forward, a superior treatment 1.” So what is all the fuss about?

Cryotherapy is a cold air exposure (dry, cold nitrogen gas with the temperature below -100°C / -148°F) which typically lasts between 2 and 3 minutes  in a specialized cold air chamber[2] (whereas an ice bath typically lasts up to 20 minutes). From the very description of the procedure, it is obvious that even the time difference matters. The duration of cryotherapy eliminates the uncomfortable sensation of cold of an ice bath (cryotherapy is not painful) preserving a “similar recovery 1” when it comes to sore muscles. Moreover, an ice bath does not give you long lasting effects – it  will not kick start the body’s natural healing processes like a cryotherapy session does [3].

“The idea is that WBC [whole-body cryotherapy] reduces the inflammatory process to allow the muscles to recover more quickly and enhance (…) training quality and return to fitness 1,” in comparison to ice baths which, besides relieving some pain in the muscles, have no other

benefits [1]. Cryotherapy with its low temperature stimulates the body and the system to check itself: “what hurts, what is not working, where the inflammation is, what needs repairing? Check. Sending blood 3.” And on top of that, “WBC purifies the blood, increases the body’s nutrient flow, and removes toxins from the system [2].”

However, there still may be some skeptics to cryotherapy as the Web is full with old, outdated information. With the research still being undertaken by cryo-scientists, “it’s conceivable that cryotherapy might one day replace cold water immersion 1.” The compelling evidence of the efficiency of cryotherapy is collected as the research gets more and more advanced. “The benefits of cryotherapy over an ice bath are that it’s easier, quicker and there may be less chance of damage at the skin, as long as you dress appropriately [3]” – more information on that here. Not only that, but also “after an ice bath the body needs about 24 hours to ‘thaw’ before exercise activity can be resumed. After a cryotherapy treatment activity can be resumed immediately. In fact, post-cryo is a great time for a workout because the body is energized and wide-awake! [4]” After a cryotherapy session, your joints loosen up and you experience an increase in range of motion which allows athletes to return to exercises immediately after a session. An ice bath leaves you stiff, sore and shivering and unable to return to exercise for a long time 3.

The pros of cryotherapy are piling up with every day as more and more people vouch for this method with their own experience and the improved quality of their health and post-training recovery (including some celebrities and professional athletes, e.g. Mark Wahlberg, Lebron James, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Lindsay Lohan to name a few).

The best advice you can get now is to find the closest cryochamber and try this new and ever more popular method of recovery. Not only is cryotherapy efficient and safe but also it helps with blood flow, removes toxins from the body, and makes you feel more energized. With the overwhelming evidence flooding from all over the globe, it should not be a question of “if” but “when” you are going to try this new method of post-training recovery.

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