You may have heard of cryotherapy, but it's likely you have some lingering questions about the relatively new practice. Here's everything you need to know before you give it a whirl.
Whole body cryotherapy, sometimes called WBC, draws from age old techniques like cold water immersion, ice baths, or ice packs to help heal, repair or rejuvinate your muscles.
We spoke to the owner of Cryo Fitness in the Sydney suburb of Penrith, Peter Watson, to discover the what, why and how of this technique.
How Does It Work?
Cryotherapy involves exposing the skin to extremely cold, dry air for 1-3 minutes. The 'Cryosauna' is "the most advanced, state-of-the-art technique today" and uses temperatures below -140°C. How do they create rooms with such temperatures? Using liquid nitrogen!
Why Should I Try It?
The treatment is mostly used to reduce muscle soreness and help your body recover from injury. Its popularity among sportspeople is thanks to the speediness of its results.
However, Peter claims it also helps with psychological stress, insomnia, rheumatism, muscle and joint pain, various skin conditions, anti-ageing and weight loss.
"When the skin is exposed to the extreme temperatures, this triggers the release of anti-inflammatory molecules, endorphins, increased oxygen in the blood and the release of toxins," Peter explained.
How Many Sessions Do I Need?
"It’s not uncommon for users to experience the benefits the second they leave the Cryosauna at the moment the blood goes rushing back," Peter states.
However, realistically it depends on why you're going to cryotherapy. Depending on whether you're using it for muscle recover, anti-ageing or weight loss, Peter explains some people have daily sessions, while others have one per week. It is judged on a case-by-case basis.
Are There Any Safety Concerns?
'But what about that liquid nitrogen?' we hear you ask. Well, Peter says cryotherapy has been pretty much perfected since its advent in Japan in 1978. Despite its recent surge in popularity, it has been around for quite some time.
"As long as all safety measure are taken there are no concerns," Peter confirms.
"Nitrogen is a non-toxic natural gas and is 78 per cent of the air we breathe. During these cold exposures, individuals wear minimal clothing, which usually consists of shorts for males and shorts and a crop top for females. Gloves, woolen socks and dry shoes are commonly worn to reduce the risk of cold-related injury."
Who Else Is Doing It?
Ok, we know "because everyone else is doing it" is never a good reason to do something. But we do think it's interesting how well-received this technology has been among the A-list. With celebrity endorsements from Mandy Moore, Floyd Mayweather, Shaquille O'Neal, Cristiano Ronaldo , Demi Moore and Lindsay Lohan, there's little wonder as to why Cryotherapy is gaining popularity worldwide. In Australia, it's used commonly among NRL and AFL players.
Famous people aside, Peter also assures us it's becoming increasingly popular among the scientific set, with doctors and sports therapists keen to refer their patients to cryo clinics.