The term cryotherapy comes from the Greek cryo meaning cold and therapeia meaning cure. Cryotherapy can therefore be traced back to ancient Greece when it is reported that Hippocrates prescribed the use of ice and snow to treat inflammation and pain.
Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) originated in Japan in 1978 when Dr Yamaguchi started using freezing treatments of short duration on his rheumatoid arthritis patients’ skin surface for pain management purposes. With these cryo-procedures, Dr. Yamaguchi found he could significantly reduce the soreness and pain his patients usually felt during manipulation of their joints, because the rapid decrease of temperature of the outer layer of skin led to the immediate release of endorphins and therefore less sensitivity to pain.
This research led to the exposure of the entire body to these extreme temperatures with the development of cryogenic chambers. Further sustained and thorough research, most notably by Professor Fricke in Germany, revealed the benefit of Whole Body Cryotherapy on patients suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions.
Today, WBC is an accepted form of treatment in Germany and Poland and can be found in over 70 hospitals in central and eastern Europe, with wider acceptance spreading throughout the world. With most research entrenched in the effects of WBC on chronic inflammatory conditions, recently there has been a trend of research focussing on the benefits of WBC in a sports performance context.