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Managing Inflammation with Whole-body Cryotherapy
Whole-body cryotherapy is gaining importance in sports medicine. Outcomes of clinical studies demonstrating the beneficial effects of cooling on physiological, biochemical, and molecular inflammatory events are supporting this claim. Faster recovery after damage-inducing exercise is possible with application of short bursts of extremely cold air.
The Cold Medicine
Experts suggest that exposure to cold can help to protect the body and vital organs. Neurochemical norepinephrine could be the one to blame. When released into blood stream it effects how humans perceive pain. Reducing short-term pain sensations caused by injuries can make healing process more tolerable and the recovery period less stressful.
More specifically, however, a recent study published in Nature suggests a bit more complex mechanisms taking place. The researchers have discovered that cryotherapy reduces the inflammatory process through the decrease of macrophage infiltration to the damaged area without actually influencing the structure of the tissue.
whole-body cryotherapy as a therapeutic method for fighting inflammation.
The changes in white blood cells behavior are also supported by results of a research pape carried out by another team of researchers a few years earlier. They showed that exposure to cold can be linked to increased production of neutrophils and their increased release into the bloodstream.
To put it differently, exposure to cold increase the body’s ability to react to harmful changes.
By reacting faster to induced injuries and by requiring less cleaning-up energy and time, cold can potentially enable more efficient healing process. Without the unnecessary pus.
Specialists report of improvements in recovery and decreased muscle soreness and swelling after a few consecutive few-minutes long sessions of whole-body cryotherapy.
It would appear that cryotherapy combats accumulation of white blood cells by constricting the blood vessels, otherwise dilated at the onset of inflammation. As the white blood cells are proven to be beneficial even in the anti-inflammatory processes, the true beneficial effects must have some alternative supportive mechanisms.
An experiment performed in Italy, focusing on professional rugby players reports that cold has the potential to slow down the release of inflammatory mediators. The researchers showed that brief exposures of the whole body to cold air can additionally stimulate the muscle fiber repair.
The alleviation of inflammation is therefore actually subjected to reduced breakdown of cell membranes. It has also been suggested that whole-body cryotherapy increase the cell permeability, allowing more nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to enter the cell and aid the healing process.
These findings show the great potential of whole-body cryotherapy as a therapeutic method for fighting inflammation with extreme cold. Although the scientific studies are still few and far between, they are demonstrating the beneficial effects of this cold therapy on inflammation management.