Cryotherapy 101: Everything You Need to Get Started
by Will Schmidt
What do Cristiano Ronald, Daniel Craig, Kobe Bryant, Lindsay Lohan, LeBron James, and Tony Robbins have in common? They’re all advocates for Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC).
Multiple news outlets have covered the WBC movement, and popular TV shows like HBO’s Ballers showcase the cold therapy treatment to viewers. This has helped facilitate the spread of WBC to mainstream culture, but despite it all there’s still controversy and misinformation surrounding cold treatment therapy.
Before we dig into it, there are some facts about cold therapy you should know.
Fact: Ancient Greeks and Romans used cold treatment therapies and praised cold treatments for their effectiveness
Fact: WBC was initially developed in 1978 as a way to treat rheumatoid arthritis
Fact: Professional athletes have been using WBC for recovery since 1990
Fact: US athletes began using WBC in 2011 as a post-workout recovery tool
Fact: Cold therapy is cited as being more effective than heat for inflammation and pain
What is Cryotherapy, Really?
Looking at the broad spectrum, the first thing you should understand is that there are two different options for WBC: nitrogen fueled Cryo Saunas and walk-in, electric cooled chambers. Each has its respective benefits, and we’ll be exploring both more in depth in future articles.
At Chill N Out, we use the Cryo Sauna. The temperature in the sauna is cooled with Nitrous gas and drops to between -120C and -160C. The process causes only your skin temperature to drop, not your core temperature. This is because Nitrogen is denser than Oxygen and thus can’t permeate your skin beyond a depth of one half (0.5) millimeters.
The cold causes rapid, vascular constriction which sends all of the blood in your peripheral arteries to your core and vital organs. Once you exit the sauna, the blood vessels in your body begin the vasodilation and pull the oxygenated blood back into your muscles and joints. WBC has also been said to flush toxins from your system and assist in the removal of lactic acid buildup.
Everybody is different, and every person’s body responds to WBC differently. However, there are a few common uniting most experiences together. Generally speaking, people:
Feel a release of endorphins and norepinephrine
Experience a noticeable increase in energy levels and appetite as metabolism ramps up
Notice more effective sleep and relaxation
Have improved athletic recovery
At the end of the day, unlike an ice bath, you’ll only spend about 90 to 180 seconds in the Cryo Sauna. Most people find the time goes by very quickly, but if you ever feel uncomfortable ending the session is as easy as stepping out of the sauna.
The Science Supporting Cryotherapy Exists
Take to Google Search and you’ll find that the general opinion around WBC is divided. Some people swear by it while others claim there’s absolutely no scientific documentation to back up the therapeutic claims.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s no corroborating evidence on WBC. In fact, a study conducted by Italian scientists in Milan found promising results when looking at WBC as a recovery tool for athletes.
According to the group, “WBC is used to relieve pain and inflammatory symptoms caused by numerous disorders, particularly those associated with rheumatic conditions, and is recommended for the treatment of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and ankylosing spondylitis.”
The study shows that WBC has also gained a wide acceptance in sports medicine as a method to improve recovery from muscle injury. Some of the results were interesting – these are some top level highlights:
WBC is not harmful or detrimental in healthy subjects
WBC induces oxidative stress, but at a low level
WBC does not seem to be harmful to the immune system
WBC shows positive effects on muscular enzymes and should be considered a procedure that facilitates athletic recovery
WBC does not damage, in any way, the heart during treatment
Based off of their research, the conclusion for their study states that WBC is not harmful and has no negative effects in athletes. If you’re interested in reading the full report, or researching more case studies, check it out here.
Stay Engaged with Chill N Out
WBC is still relatively new, and there’s going to be more research that gets published on the subject as time moves forward. The Chill N Out blog was designed to ensure that you get the most up to date resources to make the most of your cryotherapy experience.
So, if you’re curious feel free to stop by our locations in Pacific Beach and Point Loma – we’ll be happy to give you a rundown of the Cryo Sauna, the process, and answer any questions you might have. Be sure to read our blog, follow our social media, and subscribe to our newsletter for continual updates and news in the world of cryotherapy.