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MMA Recovery: Keeping It Cool with Cryotherapy

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(Cryotherapy chamber, photo via cryotherapychamber.co.uk)

Take all the benefits of ice pack therapy and multiply it by a million. Cryotherapy is a medical temperature treatment used to decrease cell growth and reproduction, increase cellular survival, decrease inflammation and decrease pain. Many professional athletes, including MMA fighters, are utilizing this medical therapy to support athletic recovery.

(Football player Franck Ribery sits in a cryotherapy chamber at France's training centre, photo via i.dailymail.co.uk)
(Football player Franck Ribery sits in a cryotherapy chamber at France’s training centre, photo via i.dailymail.co.uk, associated press)

As an alternative to cold water immersion or ice pack therapy, Whole Body Cryotherapy is administered through the use of a cryogenic chamber. A patient is place in the cryogenic chamber, which are typically cooled with liquid nitrogen to reach a temperature of –184° to –256.° Patients maximize the effect of the therapy by wearing only a swim suit, but protect their extremities vulnerable to frostbite with socks, gloves, mouth and ear protection. The head and neck are left exposed to exposed to room air above the chamber.

(Sam Warburton, the Wales flanker and captain, looks less than relaxed while using the mobile cryotherapy unit, photo: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency)
(Sam Warburton, the Wales flanker and captain, looks less than relaxed while using the mobile cryotherapy unit, photo: Ben Evans/Huw Evans Agency)
Benefits

Exposing a patient to ultra-low temperatures triggers a systemic anti-inflammatory response. According to chicagocryospa.com, patients have also reported a variety of other benefits including the relief of psychological stress, insomnia, rheumatism, muscle and joint pain, fibromyalgia, itching and psoriasis. The immediate effect of the treatment of skin cooling can last for 5 minutes, but the release of endorphins are increased. Pains and signs of inflammation as found in blood tests remain suppressed for weeks afterwards. Additionally, the treatment burns 500-800 calories as the body warms itself back up to normal temperature.

The treatment has gained popularity with athletes of all sports in recent years. Expect to hear more about this anti-inflammatory treatment from MMA athletes in the future.

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Kurt Tellez
Kurt Tellez is a Southern California-based writer and musician. He first developed a passion for writing and literature in high school that carried through to the completion of a B.A. in English from Cal State Fullerton in 2013. Inspired by Joseph Conrad, Emily Dickinson, Alan Moore and Hunter S. Thompson, he has pursued a career in writing through contributions to online magazine publications, blogging, and social media management. His musical studies began at thirteen, and has since played in garage bands, concert bands and jazz bands everywhere from Honolulu to The Matthew Street Beatles Festival in Liverpool. Kurt has followed MMA since becoming an avid listener of the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Inspired by Eddie Bravo's appearances on the show, he became a member of Tenth Planet Jiu-Jitsu in 2014.