WHAT IS COLD THERAPY?
Cold therapy is a method of putting cold exposure to therapeutic use. It makes the most of the body’s innate response to cold temperatures by inducing cold exposure in a controlled setting. As soon as the cold receptors in the skin register a cold environment, they send a signal to the hypothalamus, which incites a cascade of signaling and hormonal production that has wide-ranging effects on the body.
These hormonal signals clearly represent the interaction between the endocrine and nervous systems. Hormones released by the hypothalamus include the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers activation of the body’s sympathetic nervous system (also known as the fight-or-flight response).
As a result, blood vessels constrict and divert blood flow to key areas, including the heart and vital organs. Norepinephrine increases, resulting in initial heart rate and blood pressure increases. The muscles contract to induce shivering. The body’s stores of brown fat are also activated.
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