We caught up with Nargis Akhtar Malik, Managing Director of Cryo Express Ltd, and Debbie Masson, Owner of Cryo Express Ltd to pick their brains about Whole Body Cryotherapy and how it is used within the world of football.
Nargis, thanks for helping us with this technical Q&A on cryotherapy. First, tell us how and why you got interested in practicing Whole Body Cryotherapy?
I love technology and there’s some super health tech out there but it wasn’t the Whole Body Cryotherapy that I was interested in. There’s a very localised device which in my humble opinion is far superior than the whole body Cryo chamber. It uses the same principles but you’re able to reduce the skin temperature to a point where you can achieve Cryo stimulation and this is key in facilitating repair and healing. So after a few demo treatments on clients, I was hooked and they were too. We are now the UK distributor for that device and it sits perfectly with the whole body Cryochamber which we also have in our practice.
Great, so in a nutshell what is Whole Body Cryotherapy?
Whole Body Cryotherapy is an effective treatment that safely exposes the body to liquid nitrogen at sub-zero temperatures around -135 degrees celcius. When the body experiences this extreme cold, it begins to stimulate a range of beneficial, physiological responses that repair and reinvigorate your body, as well as revitalise your mind.
How does the chamber create such cold temperatures?
We use Liquid Nitrogen as the medium which allows you to cool the chamber very quickly. It's a very effective and cost efficient way to offer cryotherapy. Using Liquid Nitrogen vapour in a vapour form is very comfortable on the skin surface, dry and tolerable. The gas from the pressurised tank is powered into chamber mechanism that is converted into a vapour. This is powered into the cabin through controlled jets.
So tell us more about how the body reacts to Cryotherapy and why footballers are recovering so well through its use?
Professional footballers are elite athletes. To deal with the vast demands of the modern game they needs to train at a high intensity. Therefore, their body needs to be able to recover well so they can maintain and perform at this high intensity week in week out.
Cryostimulation works by vasoconstriction of blood vessels at a muscular level. (Pournet et all. 2011). This is followed by vasodialation of the vascular network.
It has been shown to reduce the anti inflammatory process but increasing the anti inflammatory cytokines and reduces the pro inflammatory process.
WBC had also been shown to create more norepinephrine which also helps the anti inflammatory process and also works as analgesic for pain relief.
Other advances include increased focus, energy and positive mood.
Whole Body Cryotherapy allows footballers to recover so they can train to these intensities and can perform to the best of their ability when they cross the white line on match days.
What is the typical treatment length and when is the best time to seek out Whole Body Cryotherapy?
A client will be in a chamber for a maximum of 3 minutes.
Would you say that Whole Body Cryotherapy reduces recovery time, more than a standard rehabilitation strategy for clubs that don’t have access to a chamber?
That's a good question. Most clubs will have excellent recovery strategies in place. We believe that Whole Body Cryotherapy is an excellent compliment to those strategies.
The science behind Whole Body Cryotherapy would suggest that it could reduce the recovery time, yes. As clubs have been using Whole Body Cryotherapy as a strategy for over 10 years we believe that some managers and back room staff highly believe in it as much as we do.
Are there any negative after effects?
So what is the future of Cryotherapy for elite footballers?
We believe that Whole Body Cryotherapy can become the scientific approach to what the "ice bath" used to be and so much more. The benefits are vast from physical to mental health and wellbeing.
We are currently treating a number of elite footballers and our clinical results show a huge improvement in reducing recovery times, performance enhancement and improved mental health and wellbeing
We know more evidence is needed to back that up, but we are currently working with university to facilitate this.
Finally, we know you provide treatments for amateur sports people. Will there be a point that amateur football club players will get regular access to this technology?
It is now available, and here in Lancashire we have opened the first clinic offering a clinical approach to Cryostimulation. It can greatly benefit not just amateur footballers but anyone who wants to stay active and live a healthy active life.
As a nation we are getting more active and living longer. People are looking to ways to avoid painkillers and stay moving. We believe that Whole Body Cryotherapy can become a part of that solution.
With the right institutional backing and training, its just a matter of time now the floodgates open to this technology being referred by amateur clubs to their players as an effective recovery protocol.
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