What is whole body cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is the use of cold for therapeutic purposes.

Whole body cryotherapy – or WBC is increasingly used by professional sports men and women to promote the faster recovery of damaged tissue, an alternative to the more common and widely used ice baths.

In the uk we have seen a rise in the use of cryotherapy particularly in football.

Perhaps this is in response to the amazing story of the 2016 Premiership Champions Leicester City.  The Leicester City squad out performed teams including Arsenel and Tottenham to win the prestigious title.

The management team used every trick in the book to ensure a fit and healthy squad including whole body cryotherapy which was used to improve recovery time between matches.

At EURO 2016 we see clubs including Wales and France using the procedure to improve the recovery time of injured players.

Gareth Bale prepares for the Wales game against Russia in Euro 2016

The benefits

Athletes report that up to 3 minutes in a cryotherapy chamber leaves them feeling invigorated and with lower levels of pain.  Although the chamber reaches a freezing -180°C users say the experience is less uncomfortable than 15 minutes in an ice bath!

Benefits of whole body cryotherapy include a decrease in pain, reducing swelling, and the faster repair of soft tissue damage.

Rapid cooling of the body leads to the rapid contraction of blood vessels and the subsequent warming on exiting the chamber, leads to 3x greater blood flow to soft tissue and muscles and therefore promotes faster recovery and healing.

Users report feeling invigorated and less fatigued after under going the treatment.

Cooled using liquid nitrogen.

Liquid Nitrogen is an industrial liquefied gas which is at -196°c,  the gas released in colourless, odourless and tasteless.

Users of WBC chambers are not in direct contact with the liquefied gas – body parts should NEVER be immersed or exposed directly to liquid nitrogen – the resulting effect would kill all the exposed tissue.

The vapour cloud associated with liquid nitrogen is caused by the gas warming and condensing in the air resulting in nitrogen being released and displacing oxygen.  Prolonged release of gas in an un vented space will result in oxygen deficiency.

The air we breath normally contains 20.9% oxygen by volume.

Reactions to oxygen deficiency differ from person to person – but exposure to an oxygen concentration of less than 6% will almost certainly result in fainting, severe brain damage or death.

Oxygen monitors are installed in WBC chambers to ensure that the concentration of oxygen in the air remains at a safe level.

Safety

Operators of WBC units should have training in the hazards and properties of liquid nitrogen.  They should be aware of the dangers associated with the gas such as oxygen deficiency and enrichment, know the importance of working oxygen monitors and know how to act in the event of an emergency.

If you have any questions regarding the safe use of liquid nitrogen then email: admin@pgstraining.com or call 01606 872864