Cryotherapy: Hype or Healing?

 

      

I heard about this relatively new treatment trend called cryotherapy with its benefit to aid in muscular and joint pain relief and had a crazy thought to try it!  I wondered if cryotherapy could help me get through my upcoming strength & cardio endurance training.  So I partnered with Icebox Cryotherapy Studios here in Alpharetta, GA to share with you the behind the scenes of my first ever experience doing Cryotherapy. My kids and husband got in on the fun too!

     

What is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is a method of treating the body by exposing it to freezing temperatures for short periods of time.  There are some rather bold claims about enhancements to the health of the body and mind. Each person is unique in both their biochemistry and the life experiences that bring them to consider cryotherapy.  Therefore, I believe that the best way to make sense of this trend was to do some quality research on what the possible benefits could be, and then experience the treatment myself. 

When I first started looking into the topic of cryotherapy, I found images of people relaxing in a booth or a little circular chamber with freezing mist seeping out of it.  I’ve also seen videos of athletes immersing themselves in an ice water bath, which must have been quite a shock to the system!  Both of these did seem a little daunting to pursue.  But cryotherapy is more than just full-body immersion. In fact, doctors have used cryotherapy techniques for decades to freeze warts off the skin or even to address cancerous cells growing in the body. Even applying ice packs to muscles after intense exercise is a form of cryotherapy. Multiple sources have stated that cryotherapy is generally safe, but there are a few groups that shouldn’t try cryo, most notably pregnant women, children, and those suffering from heart conditions or issues with blood pressure.

 Benefits of Cryotherapy

Many claim relief from muscular and joint pain, treatment for migraines, improvement of symptoms of skin disorders such as eczema as well as tightening of the skin, increased metabolism and a boost of energy which could help with weight loss, reduction in mental health symptoms for depression and anxiety, and an overall reduction in inflammation with an increase in circulation in the body. 

There are limited scientific studies to support a few of these benefits, but it seemed that the best thing for me to do was to dive right in and see how the treatment actually made me feel.

My First Cryotherapy Session 

My first visit was made super comfortable by the friendly staff at Icebox Alpharetta.  They explained how everything worked and even what I might expect to feel during and after my cryo session.  After checking in and getting a tour of the facility, they brought me to a changing room and supplied me with a robe, long socks, and slippers.  I changed out of my clothes but kept on my sports bra and underwear, then added the socks, slippers, and covered myself with the robe.

As the technician prepared the chamber, she explained how the temperature during the session was going to progressively drop below -100℃- brrrrr!!!! The chamber was large enough for me to stand inside and be able to turn all the way around and there was an open window in the front at the height of my face so that it did not feel claustrophobic. The last preparation before going inside were to shed the robe and add gloves and earmuffs, then I stepped inside.  As the session progressed, screens in the chamber showed the time remaining in the session.  I made quarter-turns periodically so that my body was evenly subjected to the cold.  The 3 minutes flew by as I danced to some streamed music in the booth.  They even asked me what I would like to listen to, and of course to stay with the theme and get my dance on, I chose Ice Cube!

Inside the chamber, the cold caused my body to tingle, at first just a little, and then towards the middle of the session I could feel it going deeper into the tissues in my body.  It was a little intense for a brief moment towards the end, but nothing that the distraction of some dancing couldn’t handle.  As I stepped out of the booth and put my robe on, I could feel the effect even as I quickly began to warm back up to a comfortable temperature.  I can say that I did seem to be energized all over my body, and the tiny tingles remained within my legs for about an hour after the treatment session. I felt as if I could run a marathon.

    

Overall, it was much less scary than I thought that it might be.  Generally, I am not at all a fan of the cold, so I was pretty surprised that even these extreme temperatures were not bad to endure.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this treatment affects how my body responds and recovers as I continue through my fitness training.

Normatec Compression Therapy

After my cryotherapy session, I relaxed in a recliner and enjoyed the Normatec Compression Therapy.  This system uses compressed air to massage your limbs, increase circulation, promote lymphatic drainage and speed up recovery.  It felt amazing to my legs and I could tell a huge difference in my circulation that evening and next day.  After my husband's cryotherapy, he enjoyed a Normatec session and we couldn't get him to leave! HA!

Have you tried cryotherapy?  How does your experience compare to mine? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so please share!