Cryotherapy – The New Ice Age
What is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy has become somewhat of a buzzword in the health and fitness world as a method for fast, effective recovery, especially following high intensity or high volume physical training.
According to Matt at Coast Cryo located in Venice, California, “Cryotherapy is the use of extremely low temperatures to address a variety of health issues from joint pain to muscle soreness, weight loss to skin problems and overall wellness. Employing the use of chambers that emit cold, dry air to the skin’s tissues, cryotherapy works through a process of vasoconstriction and vasodilation. As the body is exposed to these cold temperatures and the peripheral tissues send blood to the core to protect the body’s internal temperature, the blood is cleansed of toxins and supplied with fresh oxygen, enzymes, and nutrients.”
Despite its recent rise in popularity, cryotherapy has been around for decades, it has just become more accessible, with cryotherapy studios and mobile chambers popping up all over the US, thanks in part to the increased endorsement of professional athletes through social media.
I remember during my professional rugby days, almost 15 years ago, we would hear about the London Wasps rugby team traveling to Poland for their pre-season training camp, where they would have cryotherapy between training sessions, allowing them to triple the volume and intensity of sessions in one week.
When I played in France, the physical therapists and trainers were even armed with ‘cryotherapy cans’ which they would spray onto injured areas of the body, allowing a more localized, immediate anti inflammatory effect than the traditional bag of ice.
The closest thing I experienced to a cryotherapy chamber were full immersion Ice baths after rugby matches. We would typically jump into an ice bath for 30 seconds, then have a hot shower for 30 seconds and repeat three times to accelerate the circulation through vasoconstriction followed by rapid vasodilation.
Knowing the benefits of this contrast recovery technique, it is crazy to me how I haven’t tried a partial body cryostimulation chamber (where my head is exposed)…until now. The Partial Body Chamber at Coast Cryo uses liquid nitrogen to cool air temperature down to as low as – 274° F. Not really knowing what to expect, I donned the mandatory gloves, socks, and stepped into the unknown…
Once the initial apprehension subsided, I managed to endure the recommended 3 minutes without too much problem, and felt an immediate positive effect and invigorated sense of well being as I walked out of the chamber and into the stressful world.
Benefits Of Cryotherapy
After a cryotherapy session ends, tissues and organs are replenished with this nutrient-rich blood and participants immediately feel revitalized, with further restorative benefits occurring hours later. There is a vast list of health benefits due to cryotherapy, including:
- Decrease muscle recovery time
- Enhance athletic performance
- Support energy levels
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve circulation
- Manage pain
- Elevate mood
- Improve sleep
- Promote weight loss
- Boost collagen production
Alternative to the Partial Body Cryotherapy (PBC) method that I experienced, is Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC), which doesn’t use liquid nitrogen like PBC chambers, but involves a walk in refrigerator that cools the body uniformly starting at temperatures around -150 ° F.
A study shows that WBC produces better activation of the Autonomic Nervous system and more cellular activation than PBC.
This is next on my list to try, and even though there are only 10 locations in the US that offer WBC, Next Health in Los Angeles is just up the road so they can expect a visit from me soon!