Cryotherapy 101: We Put This Cool New Health Craze To The Test
The concept of whole body cryotherapy originated in the early 1970s in Japan as a way to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Since then, cryotherapy has won acclaim across Europe, the U.S, and Australia as a method to boost athletic performance and relieve joint inflammation. These benefits, however, are only the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve always been keen to try cryotherapy, so after being presented with the opportunity to visit EquilibriumCryo, I should have been jumping for joy. In reality, after an intense weekend of hiking, skiing and F45 Training, my poor body couldn’t be coaxed into much more than a shuffle to meet Andrea Giuliani, director of the Equilibrium Healing Arts Studio in Potts Point. It seems a stint in a chamber exposed to unthinkably low temperatures is just what the doctor ordered.
What is it?
Cryotherapy involves standing near-naked in a chamber exposed to dry air chilled by liquid nitrogen. Temperatures can plummet as low as -190°C, depending on the client’s needs, and a session can last as long as three minutes although newbies usually start with a 60 second blast. The extremely cold temperature prompts an increase in endorphins and the circulation of oxygenated blood around the body.
As well as reducing inflammation and muscle fatigue, cryotherapy is hailed for its ability to improve energy levels, decrease stress, boost metabolism and increase collagen production for skin rejuvenation. The staggering list of benefits is testament to why cryotherapy is a popular form of recovery with elite athletes, like Cristiano Ronaldo.
After changing into a plush robe and enormous fuzzy boots, I tentatively hop into the chamber. Although the boots can stay on to protect my feet from the extreme cold, the robe comes off and the machine whirls into action. The air is cold, don’t get me wrong, but a lot more tolerable than an ice bath or even getting out of bed at 6am in winter.
After 50 seconds of quietly lauding my ability to withstand temperatures that can only be found on the poles of Mars, the chamber reaches a new low of -140°C. My knees start to clamber and I feel a strong pins and needles sensation in my legs. I start marching up and down in a cloud of nitrogen with no regard to how ridiculous I look. Andrea assures me this is normal and counts down the final 10 seconds before the session ends.
The pins and needles stop almost as soon as I flee the chamber and regain a normal body temperature. Surprisingly, my teeth don’t chatter, and although my legs feel mind-numbingly cold, they aren’t cold to touch. The tightness and tension from my exercise-fuelled weekend was gone and, overall, I felt nimble, light and energised enough to run a marathon. I’m not one to voluntarily participate in cardio activities, so the fact this thought crossed my mind was an achievement in itself.
Now that I know what to expect, I wouldn’t hesitate to spare another minute or two for future sessions. After all, clients have a greater chance of reaping the maximum benefits if they perform cryotherapy on a regular basis. Andrea recommends 5-15 sessions as a general rule, although everyone is different.
If cryotherapy sounds like something that could benefit you, visit EquilibriumCryo in Sydney on our Groupon deal. Opt to purchase multiple sessions to really reap the rewards or bring along a group of friends to – literally – chill out with.