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Hot or cold? Manipulating the air around you to improve immunity & health

Recovery is an often-overlooked aspect of staying healthy, fit and happy. Here are a few ways to help bolster the immune system, control recovery time and help balance the stress loads of everyday life.

Oct 30, 2020
Zachary Buechner, ATC

In today’s world of uncertainty, many are looking for ways to prevent disease, avoid injury and overall live healthier. While there is no guarantee that we can control the stress around us, there are a few ways to help bolster the immune system, control recovery time and help balance the stress loads of everyday life.

Our society is always on the go, so getting adequate sleep isn’t always in the equation — whether it’s intentional or not. Sleep is important because it increases blood flow, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the muscles to help repair and regenerate cells. In deeper phases of sleep, the body releases growth hormones that are important for recovery after an injury. Without regular adequate sleep, these processes cannot happen. Using supplemental services such as cryotherapy has been shown to aide in regulating sleep hormones, including cortisol and melatonin.

Cold Therapy

“Cryo” meaning “cold” and “therapy” referring to “a treatment intended to relieve,” uses a large, stand-up chamber that encapsulates the body from the neck down and circulates nitrogen gas at extremely low temperatures to activate certain reactions in the body. The chamber’s sudden drop in temperature can get as low as -260 degrees Fahrenheit, which signals the brain to go into “fight or flight” mode, sending blood flow away from your limbs back towards your vital organs.

As your body heats back up once you exit the chamber, blood is re-circulated through the body, creating a systemic, flushing effect that accelerates the natural healing process, reduces inflammation and relieves pain for chronic issues such low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. This treatment is also perfect for golfers, tennis players, runners, marathoners, crossfitters, or anyone who overloads the body on a weekly or even daily basis.

Heat Therapy

If cold isn’t your thing, sauna heat therapy may be more beneficial in your recovery: it uses infrared waves to heat the body from the inside out. These invisible light rays, or infrared rays, are what makes the sun feel warm while visible light rays (or UV rays) are what make the sun bright. Scientists have established that infrared waves are beneficial to the human body because they are easily absorbed, stimulating the lymphatic, immune and cardiovascular systems and can help vibrate water molecules in the cells of the body to release toxins. As your body absorbs the infrared waves, your core body temperature rises inducing a deep, relaxing sweat.

Why use infrared and not just a traditional sauna? Well, using an infrared sauna at lower temperatures (115° to 135°F) means you can stay inside longer and get more benefits out of it, rather than heating the air around you like in a traditional sauna. Studies have shown that an infrared sauna helps detoxify the body and treat chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. It can also be used to help relieve symptoms of headaches and type 2 diabetes.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, regular use of a sauna imparts a similar boost on the cardiovascular system as running does. This increase in blood circulation carries off metabolic waste products and delivers oxygen-rich blood to oxygen-depleted muscle, so they recover more rapidly.

The infrared waves will also raise your core body temperature, thus inducing an artificial fever. A fever is the body’s natural mechanism to strengthen and accelerate the immune response, as seen in the case of infection. This enhanced immune system, combined with improved elimination of toxins and wastes via intense sweating, increases your overall health and resistance to disease.

Whether you find yourself stressed, over-worked or looking balance a healthy life, cryotherapy and infrared sauna may be beneficial. They are often overlooked and under-utilized, and yet more accessible than you realize. Stress is a part of life, both mentally and physically, but how you choose to recover is up to you.

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