Cryotherapy vs an ice bath. Which option should you choose? We know what we would pick, and there are many reasons for this.
Over the years, we’ve seen athletes use ice baths as a way to rehabilitate and recover from injuries. We’ve also seen individuals who suffer from chronic pain or inflammation submerge their entire body into a tub of ice for faster recovery. However, the effects and potential hazards of this treatment are not fully understood.
At CBB Blvd, our whole body cryotherapy chamber has been a game changer in cold therapy, not only as a safer alternative for rehabilitation and recovery, but for the many other benefits it offers that ice baths do not.
The Main Differences Between Cryotherapy Vs Ice Bath
Ice baths are considered a form of cryotherapy. With ice baths, the body is immersed into water filled with ice cubes (around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius), ideally up to the chest for up to 20 minutes. A cryotherapy chamber, on the other hand, safely cools the entire body, including the head, in a temperature of around -140 degrees Celsius for a maximum of just three minutes.
Obviously, there’s a vast difference in temperatures – which also means a vastly different physiological reaction from these two treatments.
Cryotherapy uses dry cooled air to reduce the skin’s temperature and send the body into a natural fight or flight response. This redirects blood flow from the extremities toward the core, protecting the organs and distributing anti-inflammatory proteins to injured muscles. Increased circulation can also nourish the skin and boost collagen production. As for the ice bath, the treatment causes the tissues to freeze and the muscles to temporarily lose capacity. Research also suggests that ice baths taken immediately after exercising can hinder muscle fibre growth and delay muscle regeneration. It can also cause redness, irritation and damage to the skin. And to make matters worse, extensive exposure to these temperatures can possibly lead to hypothermia.
As such, cryotherapy is considered a much safer and more bearable treatment vs an ice bath.
The Reasons Why We Choose Cryotherapy vs an Ice Bath
There are several reasons why we recommend choosing cryotherapy vs an ice bath.
Cryotherapy is Great For the Skin
Unlike ice baths, the cool temperatures from the cryotherapy chamber can help to fight the natural signs of ageing. Whole body cryotherapy can boost your skin’s collagen production levels, resulting in plump skin and a reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. You can further target any ageing concerns with our Cryo Facial treatment, which uses an applicator to specifically rejuvenate and tighten the skin across the face and neck.
Cryotherapy is Fast
Both the treatment time and recovery time with cryotherapy is significantly faster than that of ice baths. This means that when you use cryotherapy in conjunction with standard treatments, you may notice faster recovery times from your injury. By increasing blood circulation throughout the body, much-needed nutrients and oxygen are produced to accelerate the healing process. Ice baths, on the other hand, do require additional time for the muscles to return to normal functionality.
Cryotherapy Can Boost Energy Levels
During the three minute session, the brain stimulates the body’s organ regulatory functions, resulting in increased energy, endorphins and adrenaline. Exposing your body to the cold temperature for a short period of time may also increase the production of serotonin (‘feel good’ hormone) and decrease the release of cortisol, naturally boosting your mood and decreasing stress symptoms. While it is said that ice baths can have a similar effect on the body, the potential risk of exposing your body to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time makes it an unsafe treatment.
Ice Baths Are Not Safe
One of the key risks to consider with ice baths is its ability to decrease your core temperature. This is particularly dangerous if you have a pre-existing cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. An ice bath could potentially cause a stroke or put you at risk of a cardiac arrest. It should also be noted that those with diabetes may not wish to risk this treatment, as they already have trouble maintaining their core temperature. Prolonged exposure to the extremely cold water could potentially lead to hypothermia.
Book a Cryotherapy Chamber Session at CBB BLVD
As you can see, the benefits of cryotherapy are numerous, and outweigh those of ice baths. With cryotherapy proven to be safer and more effective, we highly recommend it as a regular treatment option for muscle recovery, arthritic pain reduction, mood improvement, and skin rejuvenation. We invite you to come and experience them for yourself. Please get in touch with our team to book a cryo session at our premium skin clinic, located near Fortitude Valley!