Cryo-what? Cryotherapy… Sounds like some sort of Marvel comic event where we will be introduced to the new Iceman character, no wait, he already exists (cue weird faces, why does she know that?) Stop judging, my brother is a comic book geek and worked in a comic book store for years. I grew up around boxed action figures and “Magic the Gathering” Tournies! Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Cryotherapy is currently one of the “hot” topics (ironic) in the Health/Wellness industry, which I’ve been dying to try… “Dying”, I say that loosely as I hate the cold more than anything. So, here it goes. The COLD hard facts!
What is Cryotherapy? As peeps in the industry would say Cryo. “Cyro” is the Greek word for “cold” or “icy” and “Therapy” is another word for “treatment.” The most common form of “cryotherapy” is the application of ice or ice packs to injuries, causing the bloods vessels to constrict, reducing the blood flow, minimizing swelling and inflammation, as well as reducing pain. That being said, there are a few different types of “cryotherapy”. For example, using liquid nitrogen to freeze off and remove lesions like skin tags or moles is a form of “cryosurgery”. However, that’s not what all the buzz is lately. When you see someone’s head peeping over the top of a giant cylinder surrounded by fog, almost like their head is being plopped into some sort of witches brew, that is technically called “whole body cryotherapy” or WBC. WBC involves standing in a freezing tank usually referred to as a “cryosuana” for around 2-4 minutes. The tank drops to temperatures often below -200 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold AF!
Why would someone willingly volunteer for such a ridiculous torture device? AKA what are the benefits?
- Reduce pain
- Improve athletic performance
- Decrease recovery time (muscular, surgical, etc.)
- Increase metabolism
- Aide in weight loss
- Improve sleep
- Endorphin release resulting in immediate “runners high”
- Acute and chronic injury relief (great for arthritis)
- They say it may even slow the aging process and help with decrease wrinkles by tightening the skin
What brought me to test it out? Well, besides the fact that I already felt “late to the party” and had total FOMO of the mysterious freeze tank, I also try to keep up with the latest health/wellness trends. I’ve had clients ask my opinion on the cryocraze and I don’t feel 100% comfortable offering up my thoughts unless I’ve tried it. Lastly, the most important piece…I could barely walk, I was so sore. My sore was sore. Like literally, I over trained my overtraining and needed relief stat, so I was willing to try anything. Plus, when I was scrolling through IG the other morning, I saw two cryo posts pop up (the Universe was speaking to me, I heard the nudge loud and clear), so I called. I was about to give cryo the old college try (although in college I may have been slightly intoxicated or hungover from the night before, making the whole experience a bit more appealing and most defintely easier to disrobe…I’m just being honest)!
You bought a trial session, what should you expect? I can tell you about my experience. I went to Chill Space NYC and here’s how it went down. After checking in and filling out some paperwork (can we still call it paperwork if I was typing my information into a tablet?) one of the girls behind the desk led me over to a changing room. I got to keep my under garments on, although nothing with wire or metal, so off went the bra and they provided me with an adorable tube top that I swear I had back in my clubbing days. They also provided extra thick socks to put over your socks and a robe (see awkward photos above). We then locked up my belongings and went into the dungeon. Just kidding, it was a small room with a huge human freezer omitting what appeared to be dry ice from the kitchen sink like that time around Halloween circa 1989. (You better believe just text my mom and asked her to dig up that old photo of my bro and I). We waited for the machine to warm-up, well, technically to cool down, to get to freezing temperatures. While we waited she talked me through what was about to go down and made me put on chunky wool gloves (functional but not fashionable). It was time! I dropped the robe, stepped into the weird chamber and she began lowering the temperature via a computer screen attached to the human ice-pop maker I was now standing in. She told me to spin myself around like a rotisserie chicken (just what a vegan wants to hear), but I listened and spun away singing “Ice Ice baby” over and over in my head. Cold, yes. Very cold, yes. Ummm what in the world am I doing cold…. yes, but only for a minute. I mean the whole thing is only 3 minutes long. The whole time I spun with chattering teeth, she kept talking to me. I’m not sure I remember anything because I somehow got brain freeze without the ice cream #gypped. She even took my phone and snapped this not so adorable pic of me for the gram LOL. Just like that, I was cooked and ready to defrost. She had me step out, put the robe back on, and then sit out in the waiting room area to CHILL out until I was ready to get dressed and head home to blog about it.
What did it actually feel like? Guys, -220 degree is cold. Guess what, it was cold. Here’s the thing though, it’s dry cold. It’s the same feeling if you were to step outside on a freezing cold day in your bathing suit. No snow, no jumping in the ocean like those crazy people do for the polar bear plunge, just standing outside not appropriately dressed for the NYC winter weather. Oddly, it’s not really “uncomfortable” because you’re dry.
So, did it work? Well, this answer/opinion is obviously different for everyone and I was a bit skeptical to be honest. After getting dressed I asked the girls at the desk when I would start feeling better and they said immediately, which made me chuckle because all I felt, was my rump roast slowly defrosting like when you finally head into the lodge after a full day of snowboarding. I left the office definitely feeling more awake than when I had gone in and actually headed downtown to try a new fitness class. Still really sore, I pushed through the workout and I kid you not, on my way home I realized OMG I’m walking without using my hands to pull my pants up to lift my leg like a marionette puppet!?!? I went to bed feeling pretty darn good and when I woke up, I could not believe how good I felt. Seriously somewhere between 80%-90% better. The feeling I had was what normally would take nearly two weeks of rest (which I’m not good at), foam rolling, cupping, stretching, epsom salt baths, etc.
Just like that, I’m a believer. As an athlete my whole life, I wish this was around years ago because I would have taken a dry 3-minute human ice pop chamber over a 10 minute water ice bath ANYDAY. That, my friends is exactly why it has become so commonplace for athletes today. Cryo is quick, easy, and effective.
Now that you’ve read about my experience, go try it out for yourself and comment below with what you thought!
Sweat, Smile, Sparkle – Jess