We Tried Cryotherapy So You Don’t Have To

February 5, 2018

The other day while walking through JFK, I saw a man getting what looked like a smudging treatment on his upper back (smudging = space cleansing via burning herbs). My suspicion that burning herbs couldn’t be an airport sanctioned activity was confirmed after I did some investigating and discovered he was getting a localized cryotherapy treatment! Pro athletes have been into Cryotherapy for a while, but now this cold therapy is cropping up everywhere, which means you are owed a rundown! Read on for the Cryotherapy pros and cons to see if it’s worth the fanfare.

WTF is Cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy is a 2-3 minute long treatment that uses exposure to super cold temperatures to reduce inflammation and repair damaged body tissue. Sometimes called “frost” or “cold” therapy, Cryotherapy happens when liquid nitrogen sprayed into the air rapidly decreases the air temperature surrounding your body (up to -240°F). Athletes have long used ice baths as a way to get a similar healing effects after strenuous activity.

Potential Cryotherapy Benefits

The theory is that by quickly and dramatically lowering body temperature, our bodies believe we’re going to freeze to death, so blood rushes to protect our organs and our immune and circulatory systems go bananas (in a good way). Immediately after the treatment, blood rushes back to the extremities along with a surge of endorphins. Although science has yet to confirm the bevy of enthusiastic testimonials, cryotherapy is not harmful (when done by a reputable establishment with properly trained staff). Benefits people report from Cryotherapy include:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Decreased chronic pain
  • Tissue repair
  • Ward off jet lag
  • Fewer wrinkles and increased collagen production.

What to Expect / My Experience

  • To be cold AF – No avoiding this one.
  • Strip down Once in my cryo room, I was instructed to strip down to my skivvies and don a pair of gloves, socks and shoes that look like a mix between a slipper and a water moccasin. They also provided a towel as it’s imperative you’re bone dry because freezing sweat = bad.
  • Looks like an experimental science chamberThe cyro chamber is a giant cylinder with a padded interior and open top. It’s ready in less than a minute and is characterized by freezing fog cascading over the top and down the sides (super cozy sounding, right?).
  • Keep yourself moving and distracted – Once the tech started the machine, she was very informative and delightfully chatty: letting me know how important it is to keep your head up and out of the cold, how long it had been, how long I had left, and gave a few pointers to help the time pass. I jogged in place, jogged while turning clockwise, then counter clockwise, and really tried to keep up the chatting. I even tried a bout of pranayama breath of fire, but damn, it was frigid!
  • It’s damn near impossible to last past 2 minutesI couldn’t make it the full three minutes because once I hit minute two I was convinced my leg hairs were actually freezing off. Plus, my skin was so cold it was burning…which is not so pleasant. The cyro tech reassured me that even she’s only made it to three minutes 1 or 2 times – which I appreciated, even if it was a white lie.
  • Energized afterwardsI immediately felt an up tick in energy and wellbeing, like that lovely buzz after a good workout. Soon after stepping out of the chamber my legs regained feeling, although a dull chill remained for about 30 more minutes. My increased energy was accompanied by a delicious clarity and intense focus, which lasted the rest of the day – I even skipped my occasional afternoon americano.

The Take Away

I’m personally not going to do it again but recognize Cryotherapy for its potential usefulness in the medical world and for professional athletes. If you want to get the benefits of cryo without the price tag, dump a bunch of ice into a cold water and sit in it. As for this already cold-prone gal, I will stick to the occasional infrared sauna when I’m looking for a healing boost!

As is true with all health regimens, use common sense and consult your doctor if you are pregnant, have unique health concerns or are taking prescription medications.

Where to get it?

Search yelp for a Cryo center near you! Or if you’re traveling keep an eye out for XpressSpa, that place you’ve seen in just about every major airport. They just added XpressCryo facials (and upper back treatments, apparently).


Image by Cryo Science Australia 

cryotherapy saved my sanity!! I have numerous health issues and have ran the gamut in the last 14 years trying anything and everything my dr.s suggested,eventually treating me consisted of pumping me full of opioids and morphine,muscle relaxers,anti-inflamatories,patches,creams,accupuncture,anti depressants that have a secondary use for nerve damage or pain,surgeries,replacement parts,physical therapy,etc. and for the last 15 years I have tried to keep my quality of life by using medication and staying in the right weight for me,some water therapy, tens units,pretty much everything.. so this last year, I was diagnosed w severe gastritis and gastroparesis,and moderate to large sized hiatal hernia, and I believe it is all directly related to the meds I was given for “Treatment”.
But eventually,as we all know,the meds.arent strong enough anymore to control the pain,so we tell our dr.and they give us more, until you start to realize that you dont want to go out or socialize,that you are almost always in pain and therefore depressed your life has turned into a foggy painful mess and you are at your wits end. that is when I finally was blessed to find a cryotherapy center in my town!!! I researched cryo treatments,oxygen chamber treatments,edema treatment,acupressure or trigger point massage therapy-and the closest one was 9hrs.from me and used by the Denver broncos,60minutes had a segment about it. something just clicked in my mind and I knew this is what I need. the day I started my first cryo treatment I was in so much pain that I had a sheen of sweat all over me and I was very nauseous from the constant migraine I had nonstop for like 3days, which was probably being caused by my neck and trap/shoulder muscles being so close to totally seizing up and that had been going on a good 2-3weeks,the pain was so intense that I couldnt focus or finish a train of thought because all I could think about was Ouch!pain!make it stop!ouch!do something! I cant stand it,cant stand it,cant stand it”.So, I was really miserable. I had one treatment for 2min30seconds and after I immeadiatly felt this high that my body could finally have a pain free moment,which I have not had in 15 years. I was kinda loopy for awhile but mostly wanted to lay down. that was the first night in many,many nights that I was able to sleep for 5hrs straight w no waking up or tossing and turning,getting up and down,etc.I had a clarity of mind that I had not had since 2004. In the morning I prepared myself to get out of bed a certain way,like always,to cause me the least amount of pain when I realized that I had no pain!!!!!!!! maybe level 1 or 2, but it was a miracle. If you have a loved one or family member suffering I urge you give them this gift. And just think,if you could give that person just one day of having no pain anymore after years and numerous drugs trials,it would truly be a gift to look them in the eye and see the clarity and just happiness for a break away from all of it,all the pain-I think it would be the greatest gift of all. This WORKS!!!!DO IT NOW AND BE AMAZED!!! It’s like a miracle,and every time I go and can stay in for the 3min.total I know I’m healing myself and I dont need opioids or any medicine that will eventually harm me to know that!!! THANKYOU CRYOTHERAPY!!!

You morons will believe anything the celebs sell you. There is zero scientific research to prove the positive affects of cryotherapy. The body tells you when something isn’t good for it by pain. You jump in a chamber and feel pain and you think it’s good for you. Wake up dummies.

I’ve been reading too much on the science of cryotherapy yet have not yet read much on people who have actually experienced it. This is great that you were able to try it out so you can share the experience with us. This would help validate what most other cryo blog posts share wherein we can finally compare it with firsthand experience. Thank you for this informative post.

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