My initial reaction when I first learned about whole body cryotherpy for pain and inflammation reduction was,“Wait a second….it is going to be how cold?!?!”. How cold does it get exactly? Between -145 degrees and -230 degrees for three solid minutes. I am from Arizona and put on a hoodie the second the weather hits 75 degrees. The idea of being in nothing but my undergarments and some thermal socks for three minutes in a freezing cold chamber sounded completely crazy. I was curious about it though and figured I could be brave for three (hopefully short) minutes to give it a try and see what the hype was about. As I pulled into the parking lot for my appointment though, I thought for sure I had lost my mind.
The History of Cryotherapy
Whole Body Crytotherapy has been a relatively new treatment offered to the general public at spas and dedicated facilities for the last couple years. But cryotherapy treatment is something that has been being used for centuries. Egyptians used this treatment back in 2500 BC to help reduce pain and inflammation, and since the mid-1800’s there have been various researches done using cryotherapy to help heal the body. In recent decades, cryotherapy has been commonly used to reduce pain, inflammation and provide faster recovery for athletes. In addition, it has been used to help with chronic pain associated with some illnesses including rheumatic diseases. There have been many benefits associated with cryotherapy including better sleep, reduced inflammation, pain management, reduced stress and anxiety and an aid in weight loss. You can learn more about the history, benefits, and risks of cryotherapy here.
My First Experience with Cryotherapy
The week leading up to my cryotherapy appointment I was hearing a lot of stories. Whether it be from people I came across or read about, so I was anxious to get into my treatment. I had recently been doing a pretty intense workout program that left me in a constant state of being sore. The day before my session I went on a 10 mile hike and the lower half of my body was in pretty rough shape. I was practically limping into my session. I was really hoping that after 3 minutes of freezing I would feel much better!
When I arrived at my session, I was given a short questionnaire to fill out and then was taken to a changing room to get ready. Before going into the chamber I disrobed into my undergarments and put on thick thermal socks and a robe that they provided. Once I entered the chamber I handed the robe to the attendant and the chamber was turned on. There were three levels of coldness that I could choose and I went with the second level which was -180 degrees. Cold nitrogen gas started to float around my body. Since the gas comes up from the bottom, your legs are exposed to the cold the most through the process. When you are standing in the chamber, your head is the only part of your body that is exposed. You are asked to keep your head up to not breathe in the nitrogen gas and throughout I was moving around a lot trying to stay “warm”.
It Was Cold!
It was great to have my friend in the room with me. They talked to me the whole time to try and keep my mind off how cold it was getting by the second! Roughly a minute and a half in, I started to feel the sensation of pins and needles on my legs which was a normal part of the process. I didn’t start to get truly uncomfortable until I had about 45 seconds left. Just as I started to think that I wasn’t going to be able to take it anymore, the session was over. I was given my robe to put back on and taken out to the waiting room to warm up. Since it was a dry cold, it didn’t take long for me to warm up and the pins and needle sensation to subside. Once I was ready I changed back into my clothes and that was it. It was a quick and easy process that took about 20 minutes from start to finish.
How I Felt After Cryotherapy
As I was walking to my car, I noticed that my legs no longer were sore. Throughout the rest of the day, I was out and about walking around. My legs continued to be fine, I was no longer limping around. You can say that this skeptic was turned into a fan of cryotherapy treatment. I would absolutely recommend trying whole body cryotherapy at least once, you may just become hooked!
Jen Mastroianni is a thirty-something cat mom of two with a passion for helping others be the best version of themselves. Maintaining mental, emotional and physical health through a healthy lifestyle is incredibly important to her. When not working, you can find her out for a run, in a yoga class or curled up on the couch with a good book. Follow her on Instagram at @jenn_mastroianni.