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What Exactly Is Cryotherapy – And Can It Really Heal Injuries?

Posted on: by Wanita Nicol
Freezing ice blocks are even warmer than cryotherapy

Post-gym eina? Torn tendons? Arthritis? Fibromyalgia? Cryotherapy is a cutting-edge treatment that claims to help all of the above 

How Cryotherapy Works

Very simply, cryotherapy is a cutting-edge rehab treatment that exposes patients to temps so low (think -135°C for guys; -120°C for women) that your body goes into survival mode, pulling blood away from your extremities to your core in order to keep your vital organs warm and functioning, explains Willie Müller, director of Cryozone, which operates SA’s first cryotherapy facility of its kind at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport. The result is that your core temperature rises and inflammation, pain and swelling are drastically reduced. It’s like the super-super-sized version of slapping an ice pack on your twisted ankle.  The air is cooled using liquid nitrogen pumped through tubes in the walls, much like your freezer at home.

Why Sports Stars Love Cryotherapy

It’s a type of rehab that’s still relatively new and the scientific jury is still out on just how effective it is, but a growing number of star athletes swear by cryotherapy to help them recover from injury and bounce back after a tough training session. Cristiano Ronaldo even had a chamber installed at his house. Local fans include the Blitzboks. Unlike the traditional ice bath, chilling in a cryo chamber raises your core temp instead of lowering it, you don’t have to share a tub with your sweaty teammates and the whole thing only takes four minutes.

What You Can Use Cryotherapy For

While us regular peeps can also use cryotherapy to prevent post-gym soreness, at R500 a session (or R350 if you take the 10-sesh package) that ice pack is starting to look more attractive. But it’s also shown promising results in treating other conditions where inflammation may be a factor, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and torn tendons.

COMING SOON! We’re challenging some of SA’s top athletes and fitness personalities to hang out with us in a cryochamber. Want to see if they can stand the cold? Follow Women’s Health on Facebook for details.

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