As it gets colder outside, I know staying warm is surely on your mind. But have you considered the health benefits of getting cold? Like really cold? Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting snowshoeing, or even bundling up for a run or walk on a December morning. I’m talking about cryotherapy, one of the latest high-tech treatments to hit the wellness world.
If you’re not familiar, cryotherapy uses extreme cold to relieve muscle soreness, inflammation and, in some cases, more serious health conditions. It’s been used successfully in Japan and Europe for more than three decades, and has recently been making its way to the United States.
Part of my job at Sunlighten is to help our business customers select the right saunas for their spas and health care centers. Because I’m getting more and more questions about cryotherapy as a complementary therapy to infrared, I thought I’d share what I know.
What is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy has been popular with A-list athletes and celebrities for years. Top athletes rely on it to reduce inflammation, minimize muscle soreness and speed recovery, and celebrities use it to fight wrinkles and other signs of aging. Now that it’s becoming more available in spas across the U.S., its use is also becoming more mainstream. But what is it really?
Cryotherapy involves standing in a chamber filled with freezing air. Literally! Temperatures range from -150 to -290 F. Fortunately, each treatment lasts only two or three minutes. The immediate effects of the therapy vary. Some people report feeling more energetic, while others feel more relaxed. With repeated use, cryotherapy may relieve muscle pain, improve athletic performance, reduce depression and support better sleep.
Sounds Great, But Will It Hurt?
I think everyone has questions about what their first experience with a new spa treatment will be like. “What do I wear?” is a common concern. With cryotherapy, you may also be wondering, “Does it hurt?” Dr. Jonas Keuhne, who co-foundered CryoHealthcare Inc., one the first cryotherapy companies in the U.S., assures his clients that cryotherapy is safe and comfortable.
In this Forbes article, writer Jim Dobson agrees. He shares the details of his first trip to Dr. Keuhne’s cryo spa, where clients wear knee socks, slippers, gloves, ear muffs and a face mask (plus underwear for men) during cryo treatments. Though he felt a bit reluctant and claustrophobic at first, Dobson found the treatment exhilarating and was eager to do it again.
How Does It Deliver Such Great Results?
A quick Google search turns up a long list of professional athletes, including Floyd Mayweather and the New York Knicks, who use cryotherapy to decrease recovery time and improve athletic performance. Cryotherapy achieves these benefits mainly by reducing inflammation.
When you’re exposed to extremely cold temperatures, as you are during cryo sessions, your body redirects blood flow to your core to protect your major organs. The blood vessels in your arms and legs constrict, which reduces blood flow to those muscles. Decreased blood flow reduces inflammation in those areas, relieving the pain it causes and making it easier to get back to peak physical condition.
Is Cryotherapy Right for Me?
You don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy the benefits of cryotherapy! Though it’s fairly new and can be expensive, it may be worth exploring if you suffer from exercise-induced muscle soreness or struggle to recover from strenuous workouts.
Scientific research is still somewhat limited, but cryotherapy may also hold promise for treating chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Many of our customers are combining sauna therapy and cryotherapy as complementary services. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Have you tried cryotherapy? Let us know by tweeting your thoughts about the experience to @Sunlighten!