What are the benefits of Cryotherapy? Is it worth the hype? What actually is it? Is it safe? Why would you want to be freezing cold? These are all questions which come my way when I mentioned to anyone that I have been trying out cryotherapy!
I've been incorporating regular weekly sessions at CRYOSPA Canberra into my routine over the past couple of months for various reasons - the main one being pain management for a knee injury. I've also been exploring cryotherapy out of a mix of curiosity and my quest for optimal physical and mental well-being. Being the gym junkie that I am, I understand the science behind cryotherapy but understanding something on paper and experiencing it are two different things.
This is what I have discovered...
It is cold but not unbearable
It absolutely reduces inflammation
It 100% burns calories
It helps assist muscle recovery
It chills me out (no pun intended ha!) by reducing stress and anxiety
It aids sleep
I am a little bit addicted (and proud of it!)
What Is Cryotherapy?
The name sounds highly scientific but the basic idea is to hypercool the body to experience a range of health benefits. This technology is available for targeted areas to reduce cellulite and fat deposits, spot treatments on specific injuries, cryofacials or the sauna experience in which you spend 3 minutes while nitrogen is pumped into the space creating temperatures down to -150 degrees. The space allows your head to be out in the open, it is completely safe and as a self confessed claustrophobic, I never feel crowded or uncomfortable in there. The first thing people ask is "oh my god is it freezing". The answer is yes, being -150 degrees in the sauna it most definitely is extremely cold but it is far from unbearable. The 3 minutes goes surprisingly quickly and it isn't until the last 10 or 20 seconds it starts to feel really cold and then it's time to come out. 3 minutes of cold for days of benefits? Totally worth it.
I tried the spot treatment and the sauna and these are the benefits I experienced.
1. Reduced Inflammation
Cryotherapy enhances the body’s natural response to inflammation and trauma, speeding up the recovery process by creating a rush of bloody to the organs and throughout the body following the session. By hypercooling your body, Cryotherapy assists the release of oxygen and enzymes into the bloodstream delivering improvments in repair and recovery throughout the body.
2. Better Sleep
I equate a cryotherapy session as an intense workout - the feeling is the same for me, as though my body has exerted itself and come bed time everything is ready to rest and shut down - my mind doesn't have the chance to get over active because my body needs rest. This helps me anxiety immensely, which often peaks at night when I have nothing to distract me and I my mind gets over active. Just with a good work out, after a cryotherapy session, I find that night that I drift off almost as soon as I hit the pillow.
3. Burns Calories & Speeds Metabolism
I have experienced significant weight loss from regular cryosuana sessions and I find that if I miss a gym session, 3 minutes in the cryo sauna makes up for that – I get to enjoy the physical benefits of a gym work out without even going and while I LIVE for the gym and would never recommend using cryotherapy to replace it, it is a great feeling knowing that if I am short on time I have access to those benefits. As explained on CRYOSPA Canberra's website "exposing yourself to extreme sub degree temperatures, your body's fight or flight response triggers a core raise and metabolic fat burn to warm the body during treatment, removing toxins in the process. This causes the body to ‘passively burn’, on average, between 2000−3300 Kilojoules (kJ) or approximately 700 calories over the hours following the procedure".
4. Improved Circulation/Anti Ageing Benefits- this is a no-brainer. the benefits of extreme cold on the skin has been reported for decades. The rush of blood circulating the body following exposure to intense cold is physically evident and can be seen as the skin turns from pink and purple in any bruised areas back to it's normal colour. Improved circulation helps with overall health, the immune system, hydration, oxygenation, the look of the skin and can also aid cellulite. This is one thing I have definitely noticed. Cryotherapy is a completely natural and effective way to enhance the appearance and feel of your skin without the use of painful procedures or medications. Briefly exposing the skin to liquid nitrogen leads to the production of collagen in deeper layers of your skin which can even skin tone and cause your skin to become smoother and more elastic. Receiving spot treatments on my knee injury has actually lightened a scar I have from surfing accident significantly over the last two months!
5. Muscle Repair - my main workout's at the gym are weights based. I am quite limited in terms of cardio due to my knee injury but lifting weights is one thing I can do consistently and absolutely love. Building my strength is something I am incredibly passionate about and I am no stranger to sore muscles - I push myself really hard lifting weights and am sore in some area of my body for at least 70% of the week. I find my muscles repair much faster after a cryotherapy session and I don't need to wait for days and days for the soreness or tightness to ease. This faster turnaround is so beneficial to my training regime meaning less down time and more energy.
Why Cryospa Canberra?
Cryospa Canberra approaches cryotherapy in a very holistic way - offering a 5 Sensory Experience which begins with a private room fitted with a personal robe and 5 different elements which come together to optimize the experience "When arriving at CRYOSPA CANBERRA you will be escorted to your change room where awaiting you is a luxurious robe, taste, scent and sound experience". This includes a cold tea to kick start the metabolism, a peppermint protein ball, an essential oil and a pair of headphones with a screen displaying a relaxing journey as you spend 5 minutes zoning out from the outside world. Following this you put on your gloves and a pair of ugg boots then wander out to the treatment room relaxed and ready for the cryo treatment. The space feels like a dayspa; relaxing, luxurious and gentle from start to finish. Everything has been considered at Cryospa Canberra, it is a calming and peaceful escape from the chaotic world outside.
I suffer from chronic knee pain caused by a wakeboarding accident almost 7 years ago which over time has affected my hips, my lower back and just about every part of my body. I had planned on getting surgery this year but the timing is always wrong for one reason or another and after chatting with David, the owner of Cryospa Canberra, I was convinced there would be solutions for the short term which meant delaying any surgery was a viable option. I am in awe of David’s knowledge, we talked for a good 45 minutes about various exercises for me to do, how to work on building the right muscles surrounding my knee to avoid more pain and how to use the cryospot treatment to target the inflammation in my knee. After my first spot session I trained better than I have in years with more flexibility and freedom in my injured knee reducing the pressure on my good leg. I was able to move better, lift more and feel powerful in a way I haven’t for such a long time. I LOVE Cryotherapy, there are so many benefits I have become a bit of preacher - my sisters, my friends, my partner and probably even a few strangers (hah too friendly much?) are all probably tired of me raving about it but I truly want everyone to experience the benefits I have and urge anyone to give cryotherapy a go!