That was the response I got when I told friends that I was going to be trying out Cryotherapy recently. Oh sure, I pretended to know what I was talking about. “Oh yes, it’s a treatment involving VERY low temperatures.” Truth is though, I didn’t really know much about it either…
But now I’ve been one time, I’m pretty much an expert. So let me enlighten you, dear reader, about what Cryotherapy is (and more importantly, what it feels like).
What Is Cryotherapy Anyway?
Firstly Cryotherapy is NOT to be confused with Cryogenics. (While I am over 40, I’m not ready to preserve my body for resuscitation in the year 2525).
Cryo means cold, and therapy means, well, therapy… So Cryotherapy is a very broad term for any treatment involving cold or freezing temperatures (think wart removal at the doc’s office for example!). Whole Body Cryotherapy (or WBC) is a relatively new treatment which involves exposing the whole body to freezing temperatures. Cryosaunas have been popping up around the country in health and wellness facilities as people began to enjoy the benefits of standing in freezing temperatures. Obviously, right?
Cryotherapy is said to help with joint and muscle pain, and related disorders such as arthritis. It’s also thought to help with inflammation, increase cell rejuvenation, and some say can even help promote weight-loss.
The CryoSauna Experience – What To Expect
Honestly, I was a bit nervous about trying something that is relatively new. But what the heck – I decided to go for it!
The first important thing to be aware of is that you mustn’t wear any metal on your body: from jewelry, to the metal in an underwire bra (the metal could freeze your skin.) I came prepared in the biggest pair of undies that I own and a wire-free sports bra. Gents can wear sports shorts/swim trunks – whatever it takes to protect those delicate areas…
I was given the snuggliest pair of booties for my feet, a giant pair of gloves, and a robe. Once I was geared up we headed to the CryoSauna! Serenus owner, Joe Gerbofsky, accompanied me and explained what would be happening. He told me that you should always have a trained operator in the room with you. He also asked how long I wanted to go in for: 2 or 3 minutes. After an internal debate in my head, weighing up looking like a chicken versus making a sensible first-time choice, I opted for 2 minutes (I’m such a chicken…).
The CryoSauna is futuristic looking, with nearby tanks containing liquid nitrogen. A large display showed the current temperature in the unit: 62 degrees, nice and reasonable. As Joe turned on the nitrogen tank, the temperature indicator began to drop. Quickly.
Meanwhile I stepped into the unit, swung the door closed and handed over my robe (thankfully no-one had to see me in my undies.) Standing on a cushioned platform, I was raised up until my whole head was visible over the top of the unit. Sure, this is Whole Body Cryotherapy, but thankfully heads aren’t included.
Joe handed me the insulated mittens just to complete the look. With my extremities safely encased, we were ready to roll.
The liquid nitrogen was pushed into the CryoSauna. The air comes out of side panels so that the cold air swirls around the chamber rather than blasting directly onto your body. I could see the temperature dropping to -50, -90, -120. WHAT??? Yes it felt cold, but not painful cold like I’d imagined. My body began to shiver – it was a reaction that was totally out of my control, and felt unusual.
At the same time, I felt invigorated. Rather embarrassingly, I did several whoops and hollas. I soon began to display ‘the cryo smile’ – I couldn’t help myself!
I looked at the temperature indicator to see it hit -200 degrees. “30 seconds!” called out Joe. I didn’t know if that meant that I’d been in for 30 seconds or I had 30 seconds left to go. I hoped it was the former, I was just getting into it. It turned out the time had flown by and the session was nearly done. I TOTALLY could’ve handled 3 minutes!
I felt AMAZING! I felt big-smiley and like I should do a few boxing jabs. Invigorated is the word I suppose. Clear-headed and ready to get things done.
With just one treatment, it would be hard for me to report any improvements in muscle aches. However fans of Cryotherapy who get regular sessions report improved recovery times, feelings of well-being and more. I definitely felt great.
There’s only one way to find out if it could help you – give it a try! (As you might imagine, Cryotherapy isn’t recommend if you are pregnant or suffering from conditions such as hypertension or heart problems. Always check with your doctor first if you are unsure.)
If you live in Bloomington, IN, you can find Serenus Float & Wellness at 410 S. Landmark Ave, 47401. Visit their website here.