I never played high school football (circa 2000) partly because mom didn’t let me, partly because I was not that athletic/strong at the time and also partly because I was a little betch. However, I do remember that hopping into a freezing ice bath was the thing to do after a stressful practice for many players. The claims were better recovery and reduced inflammation. Who would have thought they were predicting the future?! Well maybe not, but one of the latest “hot things” in the world of recovery & athletic performance is Cryo-therapy. Essentially, subjecting your body to ultra freezing temps for about 3 minutes. Sounds fun, right?! Well, lets dig into this crazy new happening thing that all the cool kids are doing.
The team at Eat . Whey . Love is pretty much seasoned vets in the world of Cryo (2 times, but who’s counting?!) and each time the experience gets better and makes us want to do it more & more. Keeping with the theme of me being a little “betch”, the first time was rough. I was getting over a stomach bug, had a pounding headache and was sore from doing legs the day before. I thought about canceling my session, thinking that I wasn’t exactly healthy and what if the worst happens?! Well, my better half convinced me to go, endured what seemed to be an eternity and came out feeling like 3.5 million bucks. I, we, were hooked!
So what does doing Cryo-Therapy entail?
- Enter tiny standing Cryo Chamber
- Process lasts max 3 minutes
- Liquid nitrogen or refrigerated cold air pumped in – dropping temp to below -100 C
- Head is the only part of your body that remains outside
- Minimal clothing worn – underwear and wool mittens & socks
- The more muscle you have, the greater chance you have of feeling that deep cold pain
- Dance around & don’t focus on the cold
- You’re done!
While Cryotherapy is sweeping the globe for its benefits in athletic performance, that was not the intended use when it was created. Cryotherapy was first created in Japan in 1978 and it original intended purpose was to treat patients with multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. 40 years of trial & error and refinement and it is now one of the most widely used treatments in Europe for physical therapy, muscle soreness and overall wellness. So much so that it’s even covered under a lot of insurance plans (come on USA, get with it!).
Anyways, I’m sure you’re wondering what the actual benefits are, right? Or if this is just a fad?
Benefits of Cryotherapy
- Reduces inflammation – As some of you know, when you have some bruising or inflammation you are told to put ice on the area. Well, Cryotherapy can help in reducing inflammation across the body. All for just 3 short minutes. Cryo also stimulates the vagus nerve, the general of your parasympathetic nervous system, which can help reduce anxiety & fatigue.
- Increased Performance Levels – Cryo is widely recommended after an intense training session. It’s in these sessions where we tax our body & muscles and apply “unwanted stress”. This can lead to muscle soreness, fatigue and the dreaded DOMS. Cryo will help stimulate enriched blood flow back to the muscles, encouraging faster recovery
- Increased Metabolism – Obvious or not, enduring a Cryotherapy session cools the overall temp of your body drastically. Your body needs to work overtime to reheat the body to its normal operating temp. A quick 3 minute session of Cryo can burn anywhere from 500 – 800 calories.
- Reduce Chronic Pain or Fatigue – As mentioned before, Cryo is widely used as an option for Physical Therapy in Europe. Recovering from injuries where you may have some lingering pain or addressing chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia/common body pain is right in Cryo’s wheelhouse. Results vary by individuals, but one study showed that after 15 sessions of Cryo, fibromyalgia pain was reduced.
- Happiness – Yup, you read that correctly. Perhaps the actual experience itself might not be happiness. However, due to the extreme conditions you’re exposed to, your body releases a rush of endorphins into your bloodstream. Endorphins interact with your pain receptors (aka work to not make you a little betch) and reduce Cortisol levels (your stress hormone).
And there you have it folks, that’s Cryotherapy in a nutshell. Do we think it’s a fad? Honestly, no, not at all. Cryo is here to stay and will definitely be widely adopted moving forward. The only drawback we see is that it is expensive. A single session of Cryotherapy can run you anywhere north of $80. We have been lucky to find first timer specials or holiday discounts. The other small drawback, it is not a one & done miracle cure. As is the case with working out, you need to use Cryotherepay consistently to start seeing the long lasting benefits. You will definitely feel an immediate uplift after your first session, but if you expect that one session to cure all that ails you, then sorry amigo – not the cure for you.
Other than that, Cryotherapy gets the Eat . Whey . Love stamp of approval.