Cryotherapy for Low Back Pain

Colin Cook

I can only think of two animals that have frequent back pain: human beings and dachshunds. Dachshunds have long backs, which is a useful feature for hunting badgers, but also makes them prone to disc herniation. While about one in four dachshunds are troubled by back pain, human beings have them beat. About 80% of us experience back pain some time in our lives.


The most common type of back pain in human beings is low back pain. The risk factors for it are age, lack of fitness, pregnancy, weight gain, genetics, occupation, mental health, and backpack overload (particularly for children).


Cryotherapy for Low Back Pain

How does whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) figure in the management of low back pain? First, note that WBC can relieve pain, which is why it is so well-suited to athletic recovery. A 2017 review of existing studies found that “WBC may improve recovery from muscle damage, with multiple exposures more consistently exhibiting improvements in recovery from pain, loss of muscle function, and markers of inflammation and damage.” In other words, it relieves exercise-induced pain. It works in much the same way as applying an ice pack, but it’s faster, more comfortable, and safer than ice.


As you might suspect, inactivity is responsible for a great deal of low back pain. In fact, the best way to prevent or relieve low back pain is activity, specifically the activity of core strength training. So if WBC relieves your low back pain long enough for you to engage in core strength training, it could be part of a program to eliminate your pain permanently.


Core Training for Low Back Pain

One of the great things about core strength training is that you can do it without fancy equipment. Most of the best exercises are body-weight exercises. You can do them almost anywhere you find a carpeted floor or you can lay down a mat. The Mayo Clinic has put together a slide show with about a dozen moves that can increase the strength of “your core muscles, including your abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis.” It recommends that you start with about five reps of each exercise. As you build your core muscles, you can increase the reps until you get to 10-15.


Breathe deeply during the exercises and focus on your abdominal muscles while you’re doing them. Building up your core will offset the low back pain risk factors. It will protect your lower back from injury and protect you from low back pain.


Precautions for Core Training

But like any exercise program, you should check with your doctor before starting, just in case you have a medical or health condition that makes it a risk. If you have osteoporosis, for example, your doctor might not want you putting that much stress on your bones.


Dachshunds can’t do much about their back pain. But human beings generally have the option to manage it for themselves. Book a whole-body cryotherapy session. The cryotherapy may relieve your back pain well enough for you to perform a battery of core strengthening exercises. Repeat the process a few times a week until your back pain is gone, then continue the exercises regularly for as long as you want to remain pain free.