What you need to know


Today we are going to share with you the differences between red light therapy and cryotherapy, explaining their benefits and risks.


  • RLT vs. Cryotherapy
  • Benefits of Cryotherapy vs. RLT
  • Risks of Cryotherapy vs. RLT
  • Conclusion


Cryotherapy vs. RLT


Cryotherapy and red light therapy are similar in that they are both advanced technology that works on a cellular level to provide a number of health benefits and promote healing.


  • Cryotherapy:

Cryotherapy is a broad term used to describe different therapies that involve using freezing or near-freezing temperatures on the body. Although placing an ice pack on a sore joint is considered cryotherapy, people usually use the term to refer to full-body cryotherapy chambers that reach temperatures below -300 ºF or -184ºC.


The most common goal of cold therapies is to reduce pain and inflammation as well as preventing tissue damage. When the cold is applied to the body, the blood vessels narrow causing a decreased blood supply in the area as well as a decreased metabolic and enzymatic activity resulting in decreased oxygen demands. The overall slow activity in the treated area causes alleviation of pain and reduction of swelling.


After the procedure is complete, these vessels will begin to dilate. This contraction and dilation can help promote some key functions that can greatly benefit the skin, including promoting circulation and an instant feeling of tightness in the skin.




  • Red Light Therapy


Red Light Therapy or RLT, is a form of light therapy that helps heal skin, muscle tissue, joints as well as other parts of the body.

It exposes the body to high powered red and/or near-infrared light. Infrared light produces a type of energy that your eyes can’t see, but your body can still absorb. Red light is very similar to infrared light with the difference that your eyes can see it.

The way it works is very simple, you just have to expose your naked skin to a RLT device, and the mitochondria of your body’s cells absorb it and turn it into more energy. 

Many studies show RLT helps the cells to repair themselves and improve overall health especially in skin and muscle tissue. RLT has very low levels of heat therefore it does not hurt or burn the skin.


red light therapy for muscle recovery


Benefits of Cryotherapy vs. RLT

Let’s explore the benefits of each of these two powerful therapies.


  • Benefits of Cryotherapy

1. Reduces migraine symptoms

Cryotherapy can help treat migraines by cooling and numbing nerves in the neck area. (1)


2. Numbs nerve irritation

The cold can actually numb an irritated nerve. Doctors will treat the affected area with a small

probe inserted into the nearby tissue. This can help treat pinched nerves or neuromas, chronic pain, or even acute injuries.


3. Helps treat mood disorders

The ultra-cold temperatures in whole-body cryotherapy can cause physiological hormonal responses. This includes the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and endorphins. This can have a positive effect on those experiencing mood disorders like anxiety and depression. (1)



4. Reduces arthritic pain

A study published in 2000 showed that whole-body cryotherapy significantly reduced pain in people with arthritis. (2)


5. May help treat low-risk tumours

Targeted, localised cryotherapy can be used as a cancer treatment. In this context, it’s called “cryosurgery.” It works by freezing cancer cells and surrounding them with ice crystals. (3)


6. Treats atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease with signature symptoms of dry and itchy skin.

Because cryotherapy can improve antioxidant levels in the blood and can simultaneously reduce inflammation, it makes sense that both localised and whole-body cryotherapy can help treat atopic dermatitis. (4)


7. Reduced Inflammation

Inflammation is a process in which the body takes white blood cells to areas of the body where there could be potential threats, such as bacteria and viruses. This process could cause certain parts of the body to swell if too much fluid builds up. With cryotherapy, excess fluids are moved away from the site, allowing fresh blood to flow back into that part of the body and reducing swelling and inflammation. (6)


  • Benefits of Red Light Therapy


There is a very long list of benefits derived from red light therapy treatments, below you can find the most relevant.


1. Aches & Pains relief

Red light therapy has been shown to help with acute pain, chronic pain and neuropathic pain. Unlike most types of medications which only block the perception of pain in our brains, RLT works inside the cells promoting cellular energy, reducing inflammation, increasing collagen production and blood flow and promoting overall recovery of the damaged cells. You can quit those useless painkillers because RLT leaves you with less or no pain, more mobility and more energy to get back to the things you love. 

Check out RLT for aches & pains to learn more.


red light therapy
2. Muscle Performance & recovery

There are several studies on RLT that show: rapid recovery, less soreness, reduced fatigue, and decreased inflammation. Red light therapy makes your muscles and tendons able to produce more force and less lactic acid allowing you to lift more weight, run faster and recover much quicker after workouts. Check out RLT for muscle recovery to learn more.


3. Depression & mood

Believe it or not, the light in our environment can affect our health and wellbeing massively.

When you expose the body to red light therapy, it absorbs wavelengths of natural red and near infrared light and uses this light to fuel and balance optimal hormone production which leaves you feeling happier and more cheerful and gives you energy to face the day. To learn more about how this process works check out RLT for depression.


4. Eye health

The latest study on red light therapy for eye health, published the 24th of November in the prestigious journal, Nature, shows how only 3 minutes of RLT exposure a day could improve your vision by up to 20%. Red light will refresh your tired eyes, make them less sensitive to the sun and bright light, help you see clearer and sharper and help protect against further damage. Check out RLT for eye health.


5. Hormone Optimisation

There is strong clinical research showing the benefits of red light therapy for hormone support & regulation, especially female fertility and the thyroid gland. What happens in the cells is that the mitochondria (which are small organelles present in every animal cell), increases the ATP production within the cell, when exposed to RLT. This benefits you by improving the effectiveness of your hormones helping you sleep better, workout harder, burn more fat, be a nicer person and much more.. To learn more check out RLT for hormones.


6. Skin & Beauty

When RLT is exposed to the skin, it penetrates deep into the tissue and is absorbed by the skin cells. This encourages the production of elastin, fibroblasts and collagen which means that it will reduce the thinning of your skin and prevent wrinkles. Moreover, red light also boosts circulation which brings more nutrients to the skin tissue. You’ll look younger, fresher and have a glowing appearance! To learn more check out RLT for skin.


7. Sleep Enhancement

Many people are not aware of the important role that light plays in our sleep cycles. Moreover, the different types of light you are exposed to also affect your sleep and circadian rhythm. Red light benefits sleep in 2 ways – it increases melatonin (the sleep hormone) in your blood and also helps reset your circadian rhythm to be more aligned with nature. This means you end up feeling tired at the right time and you will fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and wake up feeling refreshed. To learn more check out RLT for sleep.


Risks of Cryotherapy vs. RLT

Let’s dive into the risks of each of these two powerful therapies.


  • Risks of Cryotherapy


There are a few risks associated with extreme temperatures. The main hazards related to full-body cryotherapy chambers are:


  • Frostbite, burns and eye injuries from cold exposure.
  • Risk of inert gas asphyxiation in devices that use liquid nitrogen for cooling.
  • Lastly, risk of hypoxia or oxygen deficiency where liquid nitrogen is used.


 Full-body cryotherapy is not recommended for individuals with conditions that affect nerve sensitivity such as diabetic nerve pain and also individuals that suffer from heart conditions due to the higher risk of shock from cold exposure.


  • Risks of RLT


Unless you are using laser red light therapy, in which case you would need protection for your eyes, RLT is known for being a very safe form of therapy.


The therapeutic wavelengths used in the devices do not burn the skin or overwhelm the body. 


The only thing worth mentioning is that you might experience temporary tightness or redness if you have very sensitive skin, or even a tingling sensation. Although after a few minutes, your body will adjust and go back to normal. This is something to consider if you do your treatment before a specific event.


If you want to learn more about How Often Should You Do Red Light Therapy and the best practices, click the link above.




To conclude, as you can see, both forms of therapy can be extremely beneficial for the body. The one thing to consider would be the risks involved. If you are a healthy individual with no underlying conditions, you can use both with no problem. If, by contrast, you suffer from nerve related conditions or heart issues, red light therapy might be the best treatment for you.


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*Sources of Information


  1. Full-body cryotherapy as adjunct treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2734249/
  2. Whole-body cryotherapy in rehabilitation of patients with rheumatoid diseases–pilot study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10832164
  3. Cryotherapy treatments for cancer https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/other/cryotherapy
  4. Whole-Body Cryotherapy in Atopic Dermatitis https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/419737
  5. Postoperative cryotherapy: risks versus benefits of continuous-flow cryotherapy units https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12776983/