In the last year of operation, we at CryoStudio have grown to love cryotherapy more than we did when we first were introduced (although it was love at first sight/try). We often describe it like “chocolate”. How do you tell someone how chocolate tastes? You don’t – you have them try it for themselves. As is the case with cryotherapy, you will only get it if you get in and try it for yourself.
Neuromuscular Sports Therapy: What it is. How to Utilize it. The Basics
What is Neuromuscular Sports Therapy and why would anyone want to use something that hard to say? Well, the best way to look at any modality is: Does it affect my organs, my structure (bones) or my tissues such as muscles and nerves. Then the next step is which area of focus will the chosen therapy affect the most.
For affects on the organs two of the most prominently chosen forms of care are load bearing movements in a workout and your medical doctor. For affects on the structure, once again, a great workout, a chiropractor or an orthopedist. The third focus, tissues, are challenged to adapt by a great workout and a practitioner knowledgeable in manipulation of soft tissue. Muscle and fascia. The two great connections in these three areas of your physiology are a great workout and your nervous system.
Challenging your bodies capabilities for adaptation through a workout stimulates changes in your bodies channels of communication. Both bio-chemically and bioelectrically. Whether you workout hard or workout easy it is perceived as stress on the body and the body will adapt to accommodate the current load of “stress” it perceives.
Lets look briefly at what a workout is, how your body perceives it and how it chooses to adapt. I have always utilized the word “Sport” in the description of my treatments as that is the primary focus for my business interests. I work with people who have a focus on challenging their bodies through athletic activity. Their chosen interest: be it CrossFit, Marathon, Triathlon, Swimming, Diving, Tennis, Volleyball, Gymnastics, Dance etc. constantly keeps their physiology at enhanced levels. They challenge their bodies. I help alleviate imbalances through soft tissue therapy.
Now, lets flip it around to an individual who, for whatever lifetime reasons, does not work out, at all, other than daily activities to survive. Some people train to accept and work with greater and greater loads of weights. That is one end of the spectrum of adaptation. The other end is the individual who has to train their body to become largely immobilized for long periods of time. Sitting for periods of 4 hours, 6 hours, 8 hours or more. Both arenas cause the body to alter its metabolism, its overall balance of muscle tension and the utilization of hydration and nutrition. The brain only perceives the “state” of the tissue and adapts accordingly.
Where does neuromuscular sports therapy fall in to place for the entire spectrum of physiologic adaptation? Simply, throughout the entire range. It does not matter if your muscles are overly challenged from the stresses of load bearing work or the need to immobilize for great lengths of time or anywhere in between. I strained a muscle using 145 lbs in a workout is not perceived any differently by your brain than a strained muscle from immobilized posture or “ I was in an accident and my muscles have never been the same since.”
Therapeutic manipulation of muscle takes advantage of the properties of the muscle itself. Muscle can only do one thing. It can only contract or “not contract”. When the brain, through the nervous system, perceives stress it generally requires muscle to “protect itself” and the muscle responds in kind and contracts. If a great enough load isput on the muscle it will alter it’s base line tone and developed enhanced tension. This is the body and brain working together to keep your structure in alignment so that you can walk in a straight line. Keep your eyes level and square. And, generally function to survive to your greatest advantage every day. When the baseline muscle tone is altered that is when muscle pain is perceived. The constant contraction, from the normal state of the tissue, begins to cause changes in the flow of blood supplied to the muscle. The capillary bed is squeezed by the tissue. Normal levels of oxygen, nutrition and water are no longer available to the tissue. This makes the muscle send out a pain signal to the brain and the nervous signal back to the tissue requires it to protect itself. The only way a muscle can protect itself is to contract. Increasing the amount of contraction, over time, causes a greater decrease in the flow of blood and the negative cycle of pain continues. Not a great protective cycle of the body. Yet, it believes it is protecting itself so it will continue until? Until the tissue itself is stimulated to not contract and the cycle of pain communication is interrupted. This is where therapeutic manipulation can assist tremendously.
By taking advantage of the way your body communicates bio-mechanically, bioelectrically and bio-chemically neuromuscular therapy effects the positive cycles of communication through the alleviation of restricted tissue and enhancing the circulation of blood. My particular techniques have been developed over 10 years of practice. And yes, for the jokers reading this article, I am still practicing. If I ever get to be professional let me know. I employ treatments to focused areas of pain and restriction. These points are commonly called pain points and trigger points. However, a key to enhancing the bodies properties is to not only addressing the focused points but the entire muscle or group of muscles affected by the restrictions of the traumatized tissue. Relief of the structure; be it cervical, shoulder, lumbar or hip is the philosophy I employ with my techniques. I find that the balancing of a structure provides the greatest amount of affect in letting the body begins its own process of re-balancing the tension of the muscles.
Now for the perfect balance after a soft-tissue treatment. What? There’s more? Yes, there is. All of the responses elicited by a good soft-tissue treatment help hit the re-set button for muscle. Adhesion is alleviated, tension is relieved and trigger points have been nullified. Circulation is now enhanced. All good stuff! However, it is never one thing but finding the “tools” that work best for you to keep your body in a better state of preparedness to adapt to any given environment. The amplified circulation restored to your tissues is just that amplified. It will now have an opportunity to return to normal.
However, another term for amplified, or shall we say enhanced, circulation is “Inflammation” . It is caused with good intent but when the primary effects of the treatment wear off the remaining blood and intracellular fluid are now inflammation.
The best and most effective treatment to enhance the healing process at this point is the wonder of Cryotherapy! Cold has been used for millenia. From a cold towel compress and hopping into an ice cold mountain stream, the Swiss, Norwegians and Swede’s using a hot sauna and then a naked roll in the snow to the modern day Polar Bear clubs that jump into frozen lakes. Can you say “Ouch!!” I can cause I am a guy.
In our world of advancement and adaptation we now have one of the best systems known in history for gaining all the flushing and healing advantages of cold. It is the overall application of cold by means of Cryotherapy. The ability to control the flow of cold surrounding the body by means of nitrogen gas has never been rivaled. The benefits of systemic flushing, cleansing and cell restoration are far reaching by using the Cryo approach. This is where a therapeutically controlled environment, as is The IceBox, can provide yet another safe, effective total means to assisting your body in recovering your genetically programmed ability to keep your body in the best functional shape possible!
The human body is a fascinating cavalcade of tissues and organs with a truly infinite array of responses. Take that one thought further and please realize that these responses are generalized among human beings. However, each individuals perceptions and physiological responses are unique to the individual themselves. We are each normal in a very customized way and each individual needs to have their treatments customized to their needs.
I hope some of these thoughts have been helpful. If you have questions or are in need of a consultation please feel free to contact me. My business is HCVI Consultations. I am Brian Fox. I can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-808-4915. Many thanks for your interest!
Your teeth chatter, your lips fade to blue and you channel thoughts of cozy campfires while you endure 15 or 20 minutes of bone-chilling cold in the name of reducing inflammation and preventing muscle soreness.
Those chilly dips could become a thing of the past, according to the operators of a new Austin cryotherapy studio. They say athletes can get the same benefits by spending just two and a half minutes inside a chamber of super-cooled nitrogen gas.
The best part? The athlete stays dry and, even though the temperature of the gas drops to minus 202 degrees Fahrenheit, never feels as miserable as when languishing in a tub bobbing with ice cubes.
But the treatment is comparatively expensive, and not everyone agrees that it’s any better than a traditional ice bath.
Intense exercise causes micro trauma to muscle fibers. That means inflammation and swelling. Immersion in frigid water or application of an ice pack slows that process.
Cold causes blood vessels to constrict and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Some say the re-warming of that tissue is equally beneficial.
“One of the reported effects is that afterward you get an increase of blood flow, which helps the lymphatic drainage system kind of clean out lactic acid,” says Kenny Boyd, head football athletic trainer at UT.
The nearly 6-foot, $50,000 cryochamber at CryoStudio on Bee Cave Road looks strangely like a giant Coors Light can with a padded pink interior. A huge tank of nitrogen gas stands next to it.
The chamber simulates a super cold environment, tricking the body into thinking “we’re about to freeze you,” says Anya Ferry, owner of CryoStudio of Austin.
In two and a half minutes, the surface of the skin cools briefly to between 30 degrees and 32 degrees, but the soft muscle below doesn’t get cold.
Much of the benefit comes when you step out of the chamber, Ferry says. The nearly 300-degree change in temperature causes the blood vessels to expand rapidly, rushing oxygen-rich blood from the core to the muscles. (People with hypertension shouldn’t use the machine, she says.)
Whole-body cryotherapy using cold gas technology is relatively new. It’s been used at health and wellness spas in Europe since the mid-1990s but didn’t migrate to the United States as therapy for athletes until early this year.
Runners at Nike headquarters in Oregon use one of the machines; so do athletes at ESPN World in Florida. The Dallas Mavericks have a cryotherapy chamber, and the San Antonio Spurs lease one. Dr. Oz recently did a live demonstration with one of the machines on his television show.
Curious about whether nippy nitrogen gas is a viable alternative to ice bath misery or just a dramatic stage effect, I headed to CryoStudio of Austin after a seven-mile morning run.
I removed my clothes, leaving on my socks to protect my feet from frostbite. Then I stepped into the chamber and snapped the door shut. Ferry turned on the gas, which she assured me is harmless. Under her direction, I rotated slowly while chilly, whitish blasts of gas filled the chamber.
For the next 21/2 minutes, I felt like I was standing in a cloud of dry ice. I felt cold, especially the last 30 seconds, but not unbearably so. It felt like I’d peeled off my bathrobe and was standing outside on a snowy day.
I warmed up as soon as I stepped out of the Silver Bullet.
“It definitely feels cold, but not as uncomfortable as an ice bath,” says Ferry, a personal trainer who earned her master’s degree in physical education. She ran track at Texas State University, where her mother, Galina Bukharina, recently retired as head track coach.
One of the reported benefits of whole-body cryotherapy is a boost of energy and improved athletic performance. I didn’t notice that, but I did feel about the same as if I’d taken an ice bath — pleasantly pooped from my run, without much post-run soreness.
In Austin, CryoStudio Austin clients include triathletes, basketball players and Abigail Ruston, a 28-year-old former collegiate shot putter hoping to make it to the 2012 Olympic Games after an injury-stalled attempt at the 2008 Olympics.
She’s long used ice baths to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation, but calls them a “mental chore.” “You have to get pumped up and tell yourself it’s going to be OK before getting in an ice bath,” Ruston says. “Afterward you’re cold, even on a hot summer day.”
This time, she’s using cryotherapy instead.
“I think it’s awesome that they’ve outsmarted the body in a sense. You don’t need to go through physical punishment to get the same benefit,” she says.
A review of whole-body cryotherapy in athletes published in Sports Med in 2010 noted that the treatment had an anti-inflammatory effect in a study of rugby players and that kayakers who used it had reduced microinjuries to their muscle fibers after exercise. The article concluded that whole-body cryotherapy aids athletic recovery.
Ice, Ice Baby
You whirl it into smoothies and use it to cool down drinks on a hot summer day, but did you know ice can also boost metabolism, relieve pain and tighten your skin? If you’ve ever applied an ice pack to a sprained ankle (or to your head after one too many margaritas) and felt the relief, imagine cooling down your entire body the same way. Only instead of an ice pack, you’re put into a chamber with nitrogen, which brings temps down to a chilly minus 270 degrees Fahrenheit.
It may sound as if you’d freeze instantly, but Dr. Alan Christianson, NMD, owner of Integrative Health and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease says “many describe the sensation of whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) to standing in front of an open freezer door.” So if you’ve ever stood in front of the freezer spooning Ben & Jerry’s right out of the container after a bad date, you know the feeling.
Christianson says the benefits of cryotherapy include:
- Pain relief from tendinitis, fibromyalgia, arthritis and migraines
- Improved athletic performance by enhancing muscle endurance, increasing speed and strength, and speeding recovery
- Increased metabolism and more calories burned
- Increased energy
- Improved skin, reduced cellulite and more elastic skin, treatment for dermatitis and psoriasis and repaired tissue
- Enhanced endorphins, which improve depth of sleep, and relieve stress and depression
How cryotherapy works
Inside the Cryosauna chamber, you are gently sprayed with a mist of nitrogen. (Nitrogen is safe and non-toxic and makes up 80 percent of our natural atmosphere.) This dry mist gently chills the skin while leaving your core warm, thus stimulating your body’s natural healing process, says Christianson. “The temperature level in whole body cryotherapy is brisk but very tolerable,” he adds.
Many people feel significant benefits after just one treatment. “For continued benefits, we recommend one treatment per week for one month, with continued treatments once or twice per month. For relief of significant pain or skin disease, we recommend up to 10 treatments in close succession (e.g. , three times per week) for maximum results. For continued benefits, we recommend treatments one to four times per month.”
Cryotherapy isn’t for everyone
WBC is not recommend for pregnant women or those with uncontrolled blood pressure, heart disease, seizures, Raynaud’s syndrome or acute infection, says Christianson. “Patients within the ages of 12 to 18 years old can be treated with parental consent.”
Feel like chillin’? WBC is quickly becoming available in most metropolitan areas, says Christianson. For a list of current WBC locations in the United States, go to lifeofmillennium.com/mii-usa.php
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The Ice Bath has been regularly used in professional sports for the rehabilitation of athletes from injuries and/or heavy workouts. But the Ice Bath affects the body in a completely different way then does the Whole Body Cryotherapy at ICEBOX, which has now been shown to be much more beneficial, with no negative side effects.
First, during the 15-20 minutes of Ice Bathing, tissue freezes quite deep and frozen muscles temporarily lose capacity. Muscle tissue needs time to return to normal and after the Ice Bath the body needs rest. So regardless of the time of day when the Ice Bath took place, the athlete cannot get back to practice earlier than the next day. In contrast, ICEBOX does not actually freeze muscles tissue, it only creates a powerful illusion that the body freezes. Therefore, only 5-10 minutes after an ICEBOX session, an athlete can continue to work out or perform, completely energized and able to make full use of the day.
Next, the body’s reaction to cryotherapy temperatures (temperatures lower than -110C or -166F) in the Cryo device is radically different from its reaction to low temperatures while submerged in the Ice Bath. The biggest difference lies in the fact that , when gradually cooled in an Ice Bath, the body attempts to warm as much blood as possible in its core in order to send it to the peripheral parts to maintain warm skin surface. In other words, while in an Ice Bath, the body is struggling with actual, unrelenting, penetrating physical cold (not just signals from skin cold sensors). The process continues, while the body tries to generate sufficient heat to maintain warmth in the peripheral body parts. When the heat is no longer enough, the muscles start to congeal and freeze, beginning at the skin surface and continuing inward to the body’s center. For this reason, longer stays in the Ice Bath can cause hypothermia that can lead to death, as it is very difficult to stop this process once begun.
But in the cryo device at ICEBOX, the skin surface reaches temperature of -1C/32F in just 30-40 seconds while the circulating temperatures around the skin reach -170C (this is impossible in an Ice Bath where skin temperatures cannot drop lower than +5C/41F). The signal sent from the skin to the brain about the new critical environment is so powerful that the brain understands immediately – it is impossible to keep the peripheral parts of the body warm. Instead, blood vessels and capillaries undergo severe vasoconstriction to keep the body’s core temperature from dropping, triggering the processes described previously which include enrichment of blood and circulating it to internal organs under higher blood pressure. This never happens in an Ice Bath. Lastly, while in the Ice Bath, oxygen supply to the skin surface is interrupted, and it causes skin surfaces injury that can promote skin problems if the procedure is often repeated.
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Whole body immersion in extreme cold helps recovery
The French team AG2R-La Mondiale will use cryotherapy to help enhance recovery during the Tour de France, the squad announced today.
Riders will endure three minutes in a special whole body suit, pioneered by Tec4H, which is filled with liquid nitrogen at -150 degrees Celsius.
Cold is said to aid recovery and reduce inflammation, and riders have traditionally taken ice baths to help recuperate from intense efforts. However, the short blast of extreme cold in the new suits, which cover the entire body from neck to ankle, has other benefits, explained the team’s medical director Eric Bouvat.
“Cryotherapy is a technique which has been used in Eastern countries for several decades to fight against inflammation in people suffering from rheumatism,” Bouvat said. “They saw the effectiveness and developed it for use in athletes with inflamed muscle and tendons after exercise.
“This technique has been developed for use by our team this year in France by the company Tec4H. We use it on our athletes for two reasons: first to facilitate recovery and fight against pain after exercise. Secondly, when used over the long term, cold can help boost the immune system.
“We use cryotherapy on the team after the stages, but we also use it in the morning because the cold stimulates the endocrine system and the production of hormones.”