So, we have been seeing many athletes posting their videos online while they go through a whole body cryotherapy session, like the one in 2014 from a UFC fighter Jamie Varner. We have even seen more of others who immerse themselves in a whole dustbin full of ice water for muscle treatment or is it just about that, or there is more? Indeed, champions love these, especially those involved with extreme sports such as mixed martial arts, because whole body cryotherapy helps with issues such as inflammation and, it quickly treats frozen shoulders.

Well, I know we have mentioned UFC, standing for Ultimate Fighting Championship, and mix-martial arts (MMA), which I know will require some clarification for the benefit of the reader. UFC is an American mix-martial arts promotion company that is based in Las Vegas. And, mixed martial arts is a full-contact combat sport which allows striking and tackling. This can be done when both standing, and on the ground while using techniques adopted from various combat sports and martial arts.


Given the above paragraph, mix-martial arts (MMA) can be classified as one of the hectic sports where it is easy to hurt the body and also does require extensive working out daily for athletes to stay competitive. During working out sessions and fights, contenders get hurt but will need to heal fast and prepare for the next fight. This is where cryotherapy comes in, helping them heal muscles in record time.

The Answer is Cold Therapy

When healing their muscles as mentioned above, the process works as follows;

As soon as you enter the cryotherapy chamber, your body is blasted with a burst of nitrogen gas in intervals of thirty seconds or so. The freezing gas (nitrogen) surrounds your entire body, causing your blood to rush away from your limbs, and towards your core, in an attempt to warm and protect your vital organs from getting fatally affected by the ‘ice.’ The process puts your body into survival mode, and thus fills your blood with oxygen. By the moment you step out of the chamber (at the end of the session), your blood rushes back to your arms and legs immediately. During that moment, you will feel warm, with almost a tingly sensation, meaning that your body is working just fine.

This is how whole-body cryotherapy works, because with a sports injury, be it a bump or a strain, your own blood, that will be running to the core, and then coming back to the limbs with oxygenated blood, redevelops injured cells thereby helping you heal faster than when taking the usual route to heal. Another advantage of using cryotherapy in extreme sports is its hormonal effect on the athletes as it helps them become fully prepared form the next game.

In conclusion, a 2017 paper [1] that carried out a study between effects of whole body cryotherapy and far-infrared treatment on athletes after intense running, showed that athletes felt better after 24 hours when treated using whole-body cryotherapy. The ones treated using far-infrared recovered only after 48 hours.