Cryotherapy: Restarting Your Own Body (For the Better)
Last year I had a conversation with my friend Cristi about a new kind of alternative healing remedy, namely cryotherapy. He was already familiar with it and advised me to try it out, even on experimental (if not healing) purposes for the first time. Honestly, I was super reluctant. The procedure requires for someone to step into a vertical cabin while being “frozen” up with the aid of liquid nitrogen to temperatures as down as – 180°C (or even lower) at a maximum time frame of 3 minutes. Being frozen up until – 180°C..are you kidding me?!? This was definitely NOT on my bucket list! But I’ve done a bit of research on it and it turned out that big athletes like LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo actively used it for regeneration purposes as well as Tony Robbins as one of his daily healthy practices. In light of all this research and after reading about Cristi’s direct experience with it (link here) I decided to give it a try!
But not just an ordinary try. I wanted to push my limits and enjoy the therapy’s benefits on a prolonged time period, since I suffered from a shoulder concussion that didn’t heal quite properly. Fast forward one year and I’m back to Romania, booking 4 sessions of cryotherapy. Gulp!
Before telling you about my experience, let me give you a bit of additional information. As previously mentioned, cryotherapy lowers one’s body temperature between -20°C and -140°C in 30 seconds, all with the help of liquid nitrogen; after that the temperature level remains steady. The substance is scattered in the cabin in the form of a dry, constant airflow, and NOT liquid one, as this latter state produces irreversible and fatal damages (a.k.a. death). A normal sessions lasts for 3 minutes, as the body may suffer from frost bites if exposed over this limit, while the maximum temperature inside the cabin may decrease up until -196°C (depending on each individual’s body resistance).
The method it is believed to be originating from Poland/East Germany and was initially developed for people with arthritis, but nowadays it is marketed as a technique that enhances ones lifespan and corrects functional disorders. The cool, 0 moisture environment inside the sauna-like chamber fires the skin’s cold receptors, which in turn activate the anti-inflammatory receptors throughout your whole being to kick in and repair your body. It turns out that at the skin level, there are up to 10-15 times more cold receptors than warm ones or to be more precise: each cm2 of skin has 25 tactical receptors, 2 warm receptors and 12-15 cold receptors. That’s quite an advantage! No wonder cold therapy was used long before the emergence of this technology, as a means of fast healing. Even communists encouraged it (without explicitly knowing about it), as my father once recalled that during the Romanian communism era they were advised to end their shower with 10 minutes of cold water to better strengthen the immune system.
The price of one session is quite cheap in Romania, somewhere around € 10-30 (mine costed 60 lei ~ €15), as compared to West Europe and the US where the prices range between € 60-80/session. Talk about global arbitrage! Even though cryosauna is not so accessible since it is still considered quite exclusive. You have more chances finding this technology in a wellness beauty spa, rather than a medical clinic, since it effortlessly helps people loose fat (up to 150 kcl/3 minutes) and get rid of deep wrinkles.
Here are a few of the application domains of the cryosauna, taken from the brochure I received back at the cryotherapy center:
- osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (knee, hip, etc.)
- chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases
- autoimmune chronic hepatitis
- neurodegenerative disorders
- neuroses, migraines and sleep disorders
- impotence treatment
- asthma bronchitis
- dermatitis and some skin rashes
- concussions, contusions and sprains
- postoperative treatment
- anti-wrinkle effect
Also, a small glimpse at the therapy’s benefits taken from the same brochure:
- Prevention of oxidative stress and its consequences
- Prevention of respiratory diseases
- Enhanced immune system
- Metabolic regeneration
- Enhanced muscle strength
- Increased blood flow
No wonder athletes use it in healing their severe injuries or for a better body regeneration after prolonged training sessions, as well as Tony Robbins that uses it after each one of his intense seminars.
Now back to my experience. I found the nearest cryosauna in Cluj-Napoca, a city close to my hometown, right inside one of the city’s football stadiums (CFR). It turns out I was actually scheduled right after the football team that did their monthly regular “chilling” sessions.
I have to recall that my first session was quite short. I was gradually exposed to the cool temperature for 100 seconds, no more; still I wanted to go even further up to 150 seconds, though the lady there advised me to start slow due to caution reasons.
Before getting into the cabin I had to undress myself, remove any metal objects and put on some special socks and bootees, to prevent my feet from frost bites. Likewise, I had to keep my arms above the cabin, while in it, preferably in a praying position, but not necessarily (I couldn’t do it to be honest, I’m too tall); all while spinning in the tube, allowing so the cool air to spread across each inch of my body.
After 60 seconds I started to feel some changes. I felt all my blood coming from the arms and legs straightening right to the organs (probably in a last call to save them), as my by brain thought that I’m gonna die. Or at least that’s how it felt. Then the “restarting” of the body occurred, but not until 3-4 hours after my session had finished. I slept instantly that night, and could feel that my shoulder undergoes some changes. Throughout the day I wasn’t hungry anymore and I had constant goose bumps from 30 to 30 minutes for about 2 hours, even though I felt quite sleepy (maybe that’s why I instantly slept). And these were just effects from a 100 seconds exposure. I couldn’t wait for the next session.
Being thrilled upon the last day’s results I went full in and did 2 sessions (2nd and 3rd one) the next day, with 4 hours difference between them. I figured it out that if the effects start to kick in 3-4 hours later, then the third session would be a super combo. And so it was. The 2nd session lasted for 150 seconds and I started to shiver a bit while my shins turned a bit red from the frost; effect that lasted for about 10 minutes. But the 3rd session was pure intensity. Full immersion at 300 seconds, the maximum exposure time, while being aware of all the changes, goose bumps that were taking place at the moment of being. I have to admit that my shoulder was in constant small pangs, but at least I knew that it was regenerating.
A small note here. Be present when doing cryosauna. Don’t talk with anybody. Try to relax and get to know your body better; thus be content with the process and don’t quit. The cold might feel unbearable at a point but hang on!
In the last day I did the 4th and last session, having the opportunity to be the first client that day and benefiting from a replaced, full-tank of liquid nitrogen. I was literally shivering and doubting my reasoning, but I lasted until the end.
After 3 days of therapy, my sleep has improved dramatically and I have abundant reserves of energy, all while my shoulder’s state has significantly improved. It is definitely not healed 100%, but for sure changed for the better. This doesn’t surprise me at all since the lady there told me that 10 to 20 sessions prove their full effectiveness. Overall my experience was more than satisfying, and I now strongly believe that it can change your body for the better. If not for the healing purposes, definitely for a more stress-free life.
One thing I know for sure. Cryotherapy is here to say!
Now getting frozen up to -180°C might not be your normal daily activity, but it is worth giving a try. Share with me what factors would determine you to step in this ice-age cabin?