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Scientific research

Whole body cryotherapy in sports

Strenuous physical exercise leads to enhanced red cell metabolism and may cause increased haemolysis demonstrating the symptoms of sports anaemia. Italian scientists show that whole body cryotherapy for professional football players decreases sport haemolysis. The researchers believe that whole body therapy is useful to prevent the physiological impairments derived from sport haemolysis.

2-min whole-body cryotherapy increases muscle strength and performance
A German study shows that 2-minute whole body cryotherapy at -110 degrees C increases muscle strength and performance of knee joints. A pause interval of 5 minutes additionally increases muscle strength, compared to a 2-minute pause interval.

Sprint after 2-min whole-body cryotherapy at -110° C
A German study shows that sprint performance of untrained men and women can be improved by 2-minute whole body cryotherapy at -110 degrees C.

Improvement of muscle strength and performance by means of whole-body cryotherapy over 1, 2 and 3 minutes
A German study shows that whole body cryotherapy at -110° C increases peak strength and performance of healthy musculature in the lower extremities. In this study, the best results were obtained after an application time of 2 minutes. The therapeutic effect of whole body cryotherapy may be explained in part by the cool body shell and increase of the aerobic capacity of the muscular metabolism which facilitates the actual aerobic execution of work.


Whole body cryotherapy in depressive and anxiety disorders

The influence of whole body cryotherapy on mental health
Cryotherapy is a short exposition to extreme cold. According to Polish researchers, cryotherapy has a positive influence on a patient’s mental state. The researchers detected improvement of the patients’ mood, deep relaxation and euphoria right after these patients passed the cryogenic chamber. Cryotherapy also relieves pain.

Whole-body cryotherapy as adjunct treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders
A study conducted in Poland shows that whole body cryotherapy can be applied as a short-term adjuvant treatment to pharmacotherapy for mood and anxiety disorders. After 15 sessions of cryotherapy, patients with depressive disorders suffered less. Patients with anxiety orders became less anxious.

Can short-term exposure to extremely low temperatures be used as an adjuvant therapy in the treatment of affective and anxiety disorders?
A Polish study shows that cyclic short-term whole-body exposure to extremely low temperatures as an adjuvant treatment to farmacotherapy significantly reduces the severity of depression and anxiety symptoms and increases life satisfaction within three weeks.


Whole body cryotherapy in rheumatic diseases

Effectiveness of different cryotherapies on pain and disease activity in active rheumatoid arthritis. A randomised single blinded controlled trial
A study conducted by Finnish researchers shows that whole body cryotherapy at -110 degrees C followed by physiotherapy can relieve pain in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Pain seemed to decrease more in patients after whole body cryotherapy at -110 degrees C than after whole body cryotherapy at -60 degrees C, application of local cold air at -30 degrees C or the use of cold packs. There were no significant differences in the disease activity between the whole body therapy at -110 degrees C group and the other groups.

Whole-body cryotherapy in patients with inflammatory rheumatic disease. A prospective study
According to German researchers, whole body cryotherapy is an effective option for treating inflammatory rheumatic diseases. A significant reduction of pain over a period of 2 months was demonstrated. Relief of pain allows an intensification of physiotherapy.

Whole-body cryotherapy in rehabilitation of patients with rheumatoid diseases–pilot study
German researchers found that whole body cryotherapy causes short-term pain relieve. Short-term pain reduction facilitates intensive application of physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The procedure for cryotherapy treatment is practicable and well tolerated. The researchers believe that whole body cryotherapy is an essential part of the rehabilitation programme for patients suffering from chronic low back pain or rheumatic diseases.

Serial Whole-Body Cryotherapy in the Criostream for Inflammatory Rheumatic Diseases. A Pilot Study
A German study showed that whole body cryotherapy relieves pain and decreases inflammation in rheumatic diseases. As a consequence, it decreases disease activity and improves motor function. According to the researchers, whole body cryotherapy is an attractive therapeutic option in the whole treatment concept for inflammatory rheumatic diseases.

The impact of whole-body cryotherapy on parameters of spinal mobility in patients with ankylosing spondylitis
Polish research shows that the use of whole body cryotherapy as a component of comprehensive therapy in patients with ankylosing spondylitis produces significant improvements in spinal mobility parameters as compared to patients in whom kinesitherapy alone is used. Ankylosing spondylitis is a rheumatic disease.

Whole-body cryotherapy in inflammatory and non-inflammatory diseases
Whole body cryotherapy is a useful treatment option for patients suffering from fibromyalgia, Bechterew’s disease or rheumatic disorders. Due to the fast subjective and objective onset of therapy effect, especially for severe symptoms, use of this treatment should be considered. Cold chamber therapy not only alleviates pain, but also reduces medication and thus possible side effects.

Cold chamber exposures (67,3° C, 3 min) in fibromyalgia syndromes
In addition to pain symptoms, patients suffering from fibromyalgia also frequently suffer from an increased sensitivity to cold. A German study in 17 female patients with fybromyalgia syndrome shows that whole body cryotherapy at -67,3 degrees C alleviates pain, improves overall well-being and increases thermal tolerance. Further research is necessary to investigate whether a serial application of whole body cryotherapy over several weeks may cause a long-term change of the pain sensitivity, thermoregulation and thermal comfort sensation.

Effects of whole-body cryotherapy on the cytokine serum level in chronic polyarthritis
Cryotherapy has an immunomodulatory effect on chronically inflamed system disorders, such as chronic polyarthritis (CP). A German study shows that whole body cryotherapy decreases IL-6 levels in patients with CP, thus resulting in an antiphlogistic effect.

Whole-body therapy at -110° C in ankylosing spondylitis
Whole body cryotherapy at -110° C is an important therapy in the required treatment combination of ankylosing spondylitis. A German study shows that treatment with whole body cryotherapy over a period of 28 days decreases disease activity, improves all three vertebral regions and reduces complaints such as morning stiffness, abnormal fatigue, joint pain and subjective discomfort.


Whole-body cryotherapy in other diseases

The assessment of pelvic statics in patients with spinal overload syndrome treated in whole- body cryotherapy
A Polish study shows that combined cryotherapy and kinesitherapy is useful in the treatment of spinal overload syndrome. It may help to reduce pain, relax skeletal muscles and increase joint mobility.

Cryotherapy in osteoporosis
According to Polish researchers, whole body cryotherapy is a great option for the rehabilitation of osteoporosis. Cryotherapy reduces pain and swellings, causes skeletal muscles relaxation and increase of their force. In addition, treated joints have increased motion range. Cryotherapy has numerous advantages, such as short application time, well toleration and quick improvement. In addition, contraindications against cryotherapy are rare.

Evaluation of effectiveness of whole-body cryotherapy in patients with tinnitus
A Polish study shows that whole-body cryotherapy might be effective in the treatment of tinnitus. This study included 120 patients suffering from hearing loss and damage. In 47 patients, the tinnitus decreased. In 4 patients, tinnitus was completely eliminated. 13 patients showed no effect and in 46 patients the tinnitus increased slightly. Overall, the researchers observed decrease of hearing loss and damage.


Other studies on whole body cryotherapy

Acute and long-term effects of winter swimming and whole-body cryotherapy on plasma antioxidative capacity in healthy women
In healthy women, whole body cryotherapy or swimming in ice cold water has a short-term effect on total peroxyl radical trapping antioxidant capacity of plasma (TRAP). A study conducted by researchers from Scandinavia and France showed that in the first 4 weeks after treatment, the average TRAP value significantly increases at 2 minutes after cold exposure in the whole body cryotherapy group, returning to baseline after 35 minutes. Similar changes were observed in the swimming group.

Lung function after acute and repeated exposures to extremely cold air (-110 degrees C) during whole-body cryotherapy
According to Finnish researchers, whole body cryotherapy induces minor bronchoconstriction in healthy humans, instead of proposed bronchodilatation. The therapy seems not harmful for lung function, but should be used with caution in susceptible individuals.

Thermal sensation and comfort in women exposed repeatedly to whole-body cryotherapy and winter swimming in ice-cold water
A Finnish study shows that repeated exposure to whole body cryotherapy or swimming in ice-cold water is mostly well tolerated. The results indicate that repeated and severe whole-body cold habituates short-duration stress, thermal sensation and comfort.

Monitoring of whole body cryotherapy effects by thermal imaging: preliminary report
A Polish study shows a slight inflammatory decrease in patients suffering from lower back pain as a result of 10 sessions of cryotherapy.

In clinical trials, local cryotherapy showed analgesic effects and reduced local oedema. This treatment is therefore an option for patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases and traumatic injuries. However, research on whole body cryotherapy at -110 degrees C currently does not support its routine use in clinical practice.

Effects of long-term whole-body cold exposures on plasma concentrations of ACTH, beta- endorphin, cortisol, catecholamines and cytokines in healthy females
A Finnish study shows that whole body cryotherapy or winter swimming in ice cold water leads to sustained cold-induced stimulation of norepinephrine. Researchers believe that whole body cryotherapy and swimming in ice cold water can be used for pain alleviation.

Effects of repeated whole-body cold exposures on serum concentrations of growth hormone, thyrotropin, prolactin and thyroid hormones in healthy women
Research conducted in Finland shows that repeated winter swimming in ice cold water and whole body cryotherapy treatments in healthy females do not lead to disorders related to altered secretions of growth hormone, prolactin, thyrotropin or thyroid hormones.

Acute whole-body cooling for exercise-induced hyperthermia: a systematic review
American researchers performed an extensive and critical review of the available research on whole-body cooling for the treatment of exertional hyperthermia. Their results show that ice water immersion and cold water immersion prove to have the fastest cooling rates for exercise-induced hyperthermia.

Local cryotherapy and whole-body cryotherapy at -110° C


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