Most of you probably don’t know, but my full time job since I moved to San Diego is a cryotherapy technician. I personally hate the cold, but I like most people was very intrigued with cold therapy. On my interview for the job, I actually had to get a treatment to see the results for myself. I have been hooked ever since.
I get a lot of questions and intend to answer them all here in this article. The most hilarious question I have gotten from people I know is “oh my gosh you freeze dead people?” Hahaha um no… that is cryogenics.. kind of.
Whole body cryotherapy is essentially putting a person in a stand up chamber with their neck and head exposed and standing in sub zero temperatures for three minutes. The client will be put into a flight-or-fight state where all the blood leaves the extremities, protects the core and gets freshly oxygenated to return to the rest of the body when exiting. It is cooled by liquid nitrogen that turns to a gas and gives you the feeling you are in the clouds over Antarctica.
Why do people do this? To reduce inflammation mostly. If you are injured or need some serious muscle recovery from intense work outs than this is your gig. It was actually designed for inflammation based diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis. Its similar to getting an ice bath, but way less painful in my opinion. Traditional ice baths that athletes use include submerging the body in ice water for twenty minutes. Then you have the process of drying off and i’ts just majorly uncomfortable. This is not the case with cryotherapy. After 3 minutes in dry air, you simply exit the chamber and begin to warm up instantly. It takes about a good 30 minutes to feel back to your normal temperature however you will start feeling the effects immediately. If you were in pain there will definitely be some instant relief along with an endorphin rush.
Other reasons for cryotherapy include reduced anxiety, better sleep, boosting the collagen reproduction (better skin), and boosting your metabolism. You can burn an additional 500 calories after a session and then doing some form of activity (not just sitting on the couch and watching Netflix). It is also documented to help fight depression. I personally feel so accomplished after a treatment, and it puts me in a very confident mood where I know I can handle anything coming my way.
How cold is it? Well for first timers we always run a level 1 which is -90 degrees Celsius. That is -134 degrees Fahrenheit. There are 2 additional levels if you choose to go colder. I am fine on level 1 because at times my teeth are chattering and I am usually shivering. That is a normal reaction and my body is for sure in that fight-or-flight state. Everybody is different and has different tolerance levels. It is not a competition to go colder, however it is available to those who can handle more intense temperatures.
What does it feel like? COLD! Haha I know that sounds simple but some people expect something different I suppose. Towards the end of the session it is common to feel tingling sensations. We suggest holding onto either your elbows which are always sensitive or covering your chest as that might also be pretty cold.
What do you wear? We provide gloves, socks and booties. Underwear is optional for ladies but men must wear their own or use a towel to cover their front side. The robe is provided for your privacy and you will remove it once inside the chamber. Also no metal can be on the body, so take off that jewelry or use band-aids to cover piercings if needed. Also the body needs to be dry so either take a shower after your workout or towel off. I have seen people with shoulder length wet hair come out with icicles on the tips of their hair! Trust me, you don’t want that on your body.
When should I do cryotherapy? There are two trains of thought with this question. It depends what your goal is. If you are super sore and you need muscle recovery, come in after you work out. If you simply can’t work out and need a pick me up, then do it before you work out. It will give you that endorphin rush which can lead to a stronger work out.
Who can do cryotherapy? Almost anyone. We do have a safety waiver that everyone is required to sign prior to service. We have a list of contraindications including pregnancy, severe hypertension, myocardial infarction, unstable angina pectoris, arrhythmia, symptomatic cardiovascular disease, cardiac pacemaker, peripheral arterial occlusive disease, venous thrombosis, acute or recent cerebrovascular accident, uncontrolled seizures, raynaud’s syndrome, fever, tumor disease, symptomatic lung disorders, bleeding disorders, severe anemia, infection, claustrophobia, cold allergy, kidney and urinary tract disease. You will also get your blood pressure taken prior to entry to ensure you are in the safe range. Your blood pressure drops during the service and rises when you exit.
Does it help with sunburns? Yes, if it is minor. If it is a really bad burn, wait until you are healed up before cryotherapy.
Where should I go? Well, if you are in the San Diego area then you have to try out Cryo Shield. It is owned by a professional baseball player who now pitches for the White Sox. We have two locations, one in del mar and one in torrey pines. An added bonus for those trying out the torrey pines location is we are attached to a private gym. That means every session grants you a day pass to use the facilities. Check it out here on the Alexandria website.
So the real question you should be asking is why not try it out? Everyone should try it at least once, however the more you go the better you feel. We have clients that literally come everyday to ensure they have the best day possible. I have seen people with injuries heal faster than their doctors had predicted and do things they weren’t capable of for years. You have one body and one life, so treat it as the treasure that it is.