Cryotherapy: Have you ever heard of it?

Cryotherapy is a form of cold therapy that can be performed in many forms. It is mainly used for high level sports. However, the large number of advantages it provides make it more and more widespread among well-diversified targets. Let’s do a check in.

How do we define it?

From an etymological point of view, cryotherapy means “cold therapy”. It is a very ancient process used since time immemorial, consisting of applying cold compresses to painful or sickly areas of the body. There are currently various cryotherapy techniques that physiotherapists, traumatologists, aestheticians and dermatologists can use.

You have the choice between global techniques (treating the whole body) or local techniques (just on a defined area). Both have different benefits and application guidelines.

Although this treatment only started gaining momentum a few years ago, it is by no means a new technology. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments since ancient times. The Norwegians, the Swedes, the Japanese have practiced cold water baths for a long time. The cold is proven in these countries for its therapeutic benefits, and has always been so.

But with the development of current technology, different types of cryotherapy machine have come into existence.

How does it work?

The therapy works on a simple principle. Applying a cold compress to the treatment site will produce vasoconstriction (reduced vascular diameter), which reduces hematoma and pain.

It is for this reason that ice packs or sprays are part of the immediate treatment for the majority of sports injuries on the field.

For skin treatments, cryotherapy is performed at very low temperatures by applying liquid nitrogen to burn warts, condyloma acuminata and skin conditions.

To accentuate its effectiveness, a foundation of thermal shock must be followed, combining two elements, including temperature and action.

The first condition is to drop the temperature of the skin below 15 degrees.

As for the second, we must return to calm in a short time (10 to 15 seconds maximum).

The effects on the cardio

The intense cold provided by this type of whole body therapy serves as a stimulus for the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Heart rate and stroke volume, peripheral vasoconstriction and blood flow to muscles increase with cold.

This is justified by the body’s defense reaction against the cold, it particularly tries to cause a constriction of blood vessels and an increase in blood pressure; which directs the blood flow to the organs that need it most, namely: the heart, the lungs, the brain, the vital organs.

Therefore, they benefit from better oxygenation and supply of nutrients and metabolites, endorphins and other mediators. These adaptations of the cardiovascular system will make it possible to better irrigate the small capillaries, to supply and drain the adjacent tissues.

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