Cryotherapy is defined as the use of extreme cold in surgery or other medical treatment. For years, the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, ice baths, localized icing, and more has been used by all kinds of athletes to treat injury and reduce inflammation. In the last few years whole body cryotherapy (WBC) has been introduced. This process includes the patient putting on protective socks and gloves, stripping of their clothes completely and stepping into a specially designed chamber for three minutes that drops in temperature to -200 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are many claims that state that WBC has many benefits. Let’s go through them:
One study supports this claim and also states that it does not alter muscle regeneration. This means that it will not help you heal faster or slower, it will just help you bare through your injuries, soreness, etc.
Increased Performance Levels
Although many claim that this is an end result from WBC, this study states that there is no direct link between performance (in terms of the proprioceptive system), and cryotherapy. Although one could conclude that because pain and inflammation is reduced, performance could increase, this article from The Washington Post states “In a 2012 review of 35 studies that looked at sports performance, Irish researchers found a hodgepodge of conflicting results. Six of the studies showed that cooling led to a reduction in an athlete’s speed, power and running-based agility. But two studies found that a quick rewarming period nullified that effect. Most of the studies found that strength suffered immediately after cooling. But they also noted plenty of flaws across the studies, including their small size, with an average of just 19 participants in each trial.”
Atopic Dermatitis, also known as eczema, as well as other skin issues are known as inflammation of the skin in different areas. Since cryotherapy reduces inflammation this goes hand-in-hand. In addition, according to Healthline.com, “Another study (in mice) examined its effect for acne, targeting the sebaceous glands.”
During a three minute session of cryotherapy, your body is significantly cooled and your body needs to work much harder to bring it back to it’s regular temperature. Specialists claim that during a session, your body could burn anywhere from 300 to 800 calories.
Two weeks ago, I tried whole-body cryotherapy and I can tell you my personal experience:
I went to Cryo Center LA. Apparently this place treats anyone from Spencer Pratt, Tyga, to athletes like Anderson Silva, and Javale Pierre McGee. The studio is located behind a boutique personal training gym called Velocity in Brentwood.
Once you are escorted to the room, they hand you a robe, socks and slippers and tell you to strip down, removing all jewelry, watches, everything (obviously the guy leaves the room). Once the machine is ready to go, you simply step in and hand him the robe. He gives you some gloves and you just stand there… naked… and in -229 degrees Fahrenheit just feet away from other people – obviously the machine covers everything from your neck down. You stand there, very cold and very alone for a very long three minutes, and then it’s over. You hand over the gloves, he gives you back your robe and you put it on and walk out.
Shocking your body with -229 degrees from one second to the next obviously wakes the shit out of your body real quick. I was super alert, super energized and ready to take on the day. I did the treatment because my body was in pain since I am currently training for a marathon. The one thing that I can tell you is that I did feel less pain a few hours after the treatment. I did feel like my body was inflamed before and that the cold did help reduce that. Heavy-wise, I did not feel super light or anything like that. I just felt less discomfort existing. I also felt like I would rather do that 1,000 times over than an ice bath. You don’t get wet, it’s fast and its less of a hassle overall.
Before You Go
Do your research. The FDA does not regulate cryotherapy chambers. It is important that you look into the facility you are going to. Make sure they are legit – call in advance and ask temperature they will be taking you to so that you do not suffer injuries. If you are in for too long, then you could suffer asphyxiation from diminished oxygen levels. If it is too cold you could suffer burns, frostbite and eye injuries. On average, cryotherapy spots will have you in there from 1.5-3 minutes and will have the temperature anywhere from -150 to -300 degrees Fahrenheit.