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    2022- 2023 Cold Statistics & Trends

    2022- 2023 Cold Statistics & Trends
    October 31, 2023 Vitality Pro

    What do Usain Bolt, LeBron James, and Ronaldo all have in common? They are huge fans of the benefits of whole-body cryotherapy.

    For over 2000 years, cryotherapy has remained one of the simplest ways to treat inflammation, swelling, and pain. Other terms for this icy treatment include cold thermogenesis or cold therapy, and most treatments involve ice packs, ice baths or chambers, whirlpools, ice massages and coolant sprays.

    Looking at cold statistics and trends for 2022 and 2023 reveals just how popular this type of therapy is and how it’s still growing:

    • In 2022, the world’s Cryotherapy market was valued at just over $8.01 billion 
    • The cryotherapy market is expected to reach $12.34 billion by 2030 
    • The US holds the largest share of the cryotherapy market 
    • The US market will be worth over $5 billion by 2033
    • Hippocrates first used cold to treat pain and swelling in 400 BC
    • The Japanese were the pioneers of cryotherapy
    • There are 4 main trends prevalent in cryotherapy in 2022-2023
    • Demand for ice baths and cold showers is on the rise in health and fitness businesses

    Whether you suffer from runner’s knee, have twisted or sprained an ankle, tendinitis, arthritis or have just undergone hip or knee replacement surgery, cold or ice therapy may be the answer. 

    We’ve delved deeper into the cold statistics and trends for 2022 and 2023 to give you the full picture of this treatment option.

    Cryotherapy Explained

    While the Japanese are credited with pioneering cryotherapy, taking an invigorating dip in an icy lake or rolling in the snow has been practised in eastern and northern Europe for centuries. Cold water swimmers swear by the increase in circulation and the “feeling alive” sensation they experience after an icy swim, and in Poland, the treatment is used for depression, sleep disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and skin conditions such as psoriasis.

    Nowadays, whole-body cryotherapy exposes the body to subzero temperatures (typically –200° to –300° F) for very short sessions of 2-4 minutes. People may sit in a cold room or chamber which only cools the body from the neck down.

    “subzero temperatures (typically –200° to –300° F) for very short sessions of 2-4 minutes”

    While icy showers and ice baths are common, ice therapy devices usually use liquid nitrogen so you don’t get wet during the treatment. The therapy has become very popular with elite athletes to assist in recovering from their gruelling training schedules.

    The theory behind cryotherapy is that cold temperatures reduce inflammation and swelling just like placing an ice pack on a swollen ankle or knee. Adherents of cryotherapy claim it can alleviate symptoms associated with chronic pain, asthma, depression and arthritis. Other claims include helping to achieve weight loss, boosting metabolism and circulation, better sleep patterns and soothing sore muscles.

    However, according to Harvard University and the US FDA, there is no scientific evidence that whole-body cryotherapy is safe, nor is there any proof of claims about its health benefits.

    Yet some sites describe it as a modality or a medical treatment, while others state cryotherapy mimics exercise and its associated benefits. Is it the secret behind all those mad cold water swimmers leaping into icy lakes and oceans? Should we be taking it seriously?

    Let’s take a look at what extreme cold does to the body.

    What Happens To The Body In The Cold?

    When skin is exposed to extreme cold (30.2°F/-1°C), our cold sensors activate. In an effort to prevent hypothermia, the brain sends signals to blood vessels to constrict around the core vital organs. The hypothalamus in the brain will do everything it can to keep the core warm at all costs to ensure the safety of the vital organs – sacrificing the extremities if need be.

    The blood is also said to change when exposed to extreme cold. The heart pumps enriched white blood cell-infused blood to make sure the body responds to the danger. This blood is highly oxygenated and referred to as “nutritionally dense”.

    Powerful neurotransmitters are released into the blood too. Known as norepinephrine, this neurotransmitter aids focus, cognition, attention span, energy, and mood. Additionally, it boosts metabolism and helps alleviate pain and inflammation. Cryotherapy also releases cold shock proteins, which play a role in fat metabolism. These proteins have lipids which make your body more efficient at burning fat.

    Western medicine has also used cold treatments in different capacities over the years. Warts are frozen, as are moles and skin lesions, and it’s used to kill off cancer cells. Ice is also used to slow metabolic processes during trauma surgery.

    “Known as norepinephrine, this neurotransmitter aids focus, cognition, attention span, energy, and mood. Additionally, it boosts metabolism and helps alleviate pain and inflammation.”

    2023 Trends In Cryotherapy

    The Global Wellness Institute’s Cryotherapy Initiative has identified four main trends in cryotherapy for the future.

    1: Changes in the power that drives Cryotherapy 

    Electrical systems are replacing gas or liquid nitrogen-driven systems.

    Electricity-driven cryo systems will replace nitrogen-driven cryo systems in certain applications in the future. In central Europe, the majority of new centres are using electrical systems. In the US, it is around 50/50. But gas-driven solutions are losing market share while electric ones are gaining significantly.

    At the third international 2023 CryoCon in Dallas, electrical systems were represented or showcased three times more than nitrogen-driven systems.

    2: Cryo centres see rapid growth in the US, Europe and the Middle East

    Market research has estimated that the cryotherapy market will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 7.8% from 2021 to 2026.

    Currently, the US holds the largest market share for cryotherapy, followed by Europe and then the Middle East. This is due to the increasing popularity of cryotherapy as a recovery technique and wellness treatment. The post-Covid consumer is seeking alternative methods to boost their overall general health and immunity.

    Even cooling mattress toppers are growing in popularity due to the cold trend. In the US, the mattress topper market is set to exceed $1.6 billion by 2031, with cooling toppers becoming one of the best-sellers. Global market share is also on the rise, but the US is still leading the way.

     3: Many gyms, health centres and spas are offering cryotherapy

    As wellness is an integral lifestyle choice currently, a growing number of gyms, health and fitness centres, and spas are offering cryotherapy. In Europe and the US, ski resorts are offering it too.  

    With proponents like Wim Hof becoming better known and holding seminars and exhibitions around the world, the demand for ice baths and cold showers is on the rise.

    On the business end, offering cryotherapy offers a good return on investment, as it’s hygienic and uses minimal staff requiring salaries.

    4: Contrast Therapy – Hot & Cold

    Cryotherapy and heat-focused wellness treatments like infrared saunas are offered as part of a contrast therapy program. 

    The theory behind contrast therapy is that alternating between hot and cold temperatures can cause blood vessels to constrict and then dilate, which can improve blood flow and oxygenation of tissues. This, in turn, can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

    Cryotherapy Market Worth

    The world’s cryotherapy market was valued at just over $8.01 billion in 2022. The cryotherapy market is expected to reach $12.34 billion by 2030. The US holds the largest share of the cryotherapy market and is expected to reach over $5 billion by 2033.

    Factors driving the market growth are the increasing use of non-invasive wellness therapies to treat conditions such as cancer, skin conditions, and cardiovascular disease that have not yet become acute or life-threatening. There are no cures for these chronic conditions, so the demand is only likely to increase in the future.

    Additionally, as sport has been professionalised and huge sums of money are at stake, the incidence of sports injuries has increased. Club managers, sponsors, and owners are very keen to get their star striker back on the field in top condition with minimal delay. This is why sports professionals have embraced cryotherapy wholeheartedly.

    There is also a growing awareness of the benefits of cryotherapy in dermatology and in the anti-ageing and beauty industry. Cryotherapy is said to boost circulation, metabolism and to enhance skin regeneration.

    Turning to sports injuries and how cryotherapy benefits athletes, this segment of the cryotherapy market is one of the largest.

    How Does Cold Therapy Work In Sport?

    When we injure an area of our body, the area becomes inflamed as the body works to repair the damage. Inflammation results from damaged blood vessels which expand as more blood is sent to the injury site. Ice helps to constrict blood vessels, which results in a decrease in swelling and pain. Ice therapy is, therefore, very effective if applied soon after the injury occurs and frequently thereafter.

    Ice therapy can also be used for immediate relief of an old or chronic injury that has flared up. But it is not ideal for use on a chronic injury long-term, as it could lead to stiffness.

    Cold therapy forms the “I” element of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). This is a treatment recommended for the home care of many injuries, particularly ones caused by sports.

    The others are:

    • Rest. Take a break from sports or physical activities that increase your pain.
    • Compression. Applying pressure to the area can help control swelling and pain.
    • Elevation. Elevate whatever body part is in pain.

    As cryotherapy reduces nerve activity, sports injury experts believe that cold therapy can reduce swelling, which is tied to pain, effectively lessening sensitivity to pain.

    Cold therapy is highly effective when managing pain with swelling, especially around a joint or tendon. However, it’s not suitable for everyone, especially not people with circulation problems or diabetes. It can increase the heart rate, causing cardiovascular distress, and diabetics may not feel the full effects due to peripheral neuropathy, which could lead to further nerve damage.

    A Beneficial Treatment

    Ice therapy has its proponents and detractors and is often hotly debated however, proponents argue that cryotherapy does have its place.

    The medical profession usually treats inflammation with anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDs and corticosteroids. However, many sports experts and physiotherapists believe taking these drugs can actually hinder your healing as they reduce inflammation.

    Acute and temporary inflammation actually promotes healing as it’s the body’s response to damaged tissue. The body sends extra blood and white blood cells to the injured area to fight off potential pathogens and begin the healing process. Inflammation also helps to dispose of damaged cells so new ones can be generated. Where applying ice packs comes to the fore is in helping in reducing secondary injuries that may develop in adjacent areas to the injured site.

    Common Uses of Cryotherapy In 2022 and 2023

    1. Reducing Inflammation

    Inflammation is a natural response by the body as it moves white blood cells to the injury site or where the body detects dangers such as bacteria or pathogens.

    As the cold of cryotherapy acts to shift excess fluids away from the injured site, this allows fresh blood to flow back into that part of the body and reduces swelling and inflammation.

    2. Encouraging Rapid Recovery

    After strenuous exercise or a game, your body’s muscles need time to recover. Research suggests that overall recovery time is reduced with cold compression therapy, which allows athletes to recover quicker and get back to training.

    Cold therapy can also alleviate or ease muscle pain and lessen the probability of crippling damage to muscles.

    3. Promoting Flexibility

    Flexibility is as important as fitness, strength and stamina in sports. Overworked muscles can hinder flexibility and nimbleness. Studies have demonstrated that cryotherapy helps relax overworked muscles and improve flexibility. 

    Therapists can focus on the overworked muscles with cold compression therapy, and they loosen up rapidly. 

    4. Repairing Muscle and Tissue

    When an athlete pushes their musculoskeletal system to the limit, muscles, tendons and soft tissue need some time to repair themselves. Cryotherapy accelerates the repair process by stimulating blood and lymphatic fluid movement, bringing the requisite oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and tissues. 

    As a bonus, if inflammation is reduced, cryotherapy helps the repair and recovery process. 

    5. Reducing Recovery Time and Injury Prevention

    By using the benefits of cryotherapy, athletes can help the body heal more rapidly, strengthen muscles to prevent new injuries and protect old injuries from flaring up.  

    A 2022 study demonstrated that participants showed improvement in the following body fat percentages (which decreased) and a significant increase in isometric leg muscle torque.

    The Future Looks Cold

    Judging by the growing market, the cryotherapy market has a very bright future. Its benefits are more widely accepted in both clinical and sports medicine.

    The use of cold to ease swelling and pain has come a long way since the father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, used cold to treat pain and swelling in 400 BC.

    These days cryotherapy is also used to target fat cells, freezing them in an effort to induce the body to get rid of them. As wellness and health demand increases and technology becomes more advanced, the future of cryotherapy and its use in easing a myriad of chronic and painful conditions appears to be assured.