Most of us have been using CRYOTHERAPY, or cold therapy, since we were born. Our first ice pack was a cold towel in the shape of a bunny that we kept in the freezer. Cold-water immersion, or ice baths, have been used for centuries and can still be found in most spas today. But more recently, Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC), a chamber which exposes the entire body to extreme cold for a couple of minutes with temperatures down to -230°, has become increasingly popular.
Celebrities from Demi Moore to Will Smith have openly talked about whole body cryotherapy, as well as athletes like LeBron James swearing by it for post-game recovery. Not that we should do everything celebrities do, but they often have access to treatments that aid in self-improvement before it’s accessible to everyone.
I found True North Cryo, a local business that specializes in cryotherapy. After asking a million and one questions such as, “Will the hardware from my previous surgeries freeze?”, “Will I fit in the chamber?”, “Can I wear contacts?”, etc, I finally felt comfortable giving whole body cryotherapy a shot, since I still suffer from stiffness, nerve damage and pain in my left leg.
The Sauna Experience Before Cryotherapy
They suggested that I first use their infrared sauna for 30 minutes prior to getting into the cryo chamber. This sauna uses infrared waves to activate sweat glands and detoxify, eliminating toxins. And wow, did I sweat! I grew up always hearing, “Girls don’t sweat, they glisten.” Well, my body must not have gotten that memo, because girl, I sweat!
But, I actually love sweating, in the right arena, of course. Obviously, I don’t want to be sweating all summer long, but in a sauna, yeah, I love it!
Once, my body was nice and toasty, I dried off and went down to the chamber. I waited for the person before me to finish, while sitting outside a room with the curtain drawn, since most people experience the chamber in just their underwear. All of the sudden, I heard the music stop and smoke began to billow from underneath the curtain and a chill filled the air. Now, I started to get a bit nervous.
Into the Cryotherapy Machine!
It was my time to pull the curtain aside and enter into what looked like a futuresque time machine or a vessel that would transport me to another galaxy. I’m not claustrophobic, but was I really going to step into a tiny freezing room?!
I was handed knee-high socks, booties, gloves and earmuffs. Certain extremities have to be covered to ensure that nothing will get frostbitten. Living in Los Angeles for so long, I started flashing back to snow days as a kid in Chicago with all the winter wear, except I had never worn these with just undies before.
I’m offered a music distraction for the chamber, and without hesitation I request Lizzo, because if there is one constant in my life, it’s that Lizzo never ceases to motivate me to try something I’m afraid to do! The cryo-expert, Natalie, opens the door and more liquid nitrogen spills out, but this time I step right into the source. She closes the door and rolls down the window. At least my head isn’t fully submerged.
Minus 170 degrees! I’m practically naked in -170 degree temperature, breathing and trying to remind myself I can do anything for 2 minutes. Cold air dances its way around my skin, not quite sending shivers, however, I am very aware of how cold it is, almost as if it is refreshing.
I Survived the Cryotherapy Process!
Before “Juice” even ends, Natalie opens the door, and just like that, the smoke is gone and I’ve survived. I warm up quicker than I imagined and do actually feel a bit energized, although I’m not sure if it’s the cryo or all my nerves. However, hours later, I still feel the energy flowing through my arms and legs.
The experts say exposure to such extreme cold temperatures activates your body’s fight or flight response. In return, this diverts blood flow from extremities (arms, legs), including everything inflamed or injured, to the vital organs to protect them from freezing. Once back at normal temperatures, re-oxygenated blood pumps through the body. This should leave you feeling refreshed and revitalized.
From my research, I learned that the possible benefits from WBC include:
- Improved sleep
- Relieving chronic pain
- Soothing chronic skin conditions
- Reducing anxiety
- Lowering inflammation
- Boosting muscle recovery
- Elevating mood
Although many doctors and researchers swear by this new trend, the FDA has still not approved it. And as it goes with any body treatment, please consult a doctor to ensure treatment is safe for you.
All in all, I really enjoyed my cryotherapy experience and felt invigorated afterward.
I’m glad to be trusting my body again, that she is capable of so many adventures and this is just one more step in my journey of falling in love with my body. The body I have right now, not the one I had or the one I hope to have, the one I am living in at this exact moment!