The next time you hear someone talking about freezing themselves don’t think Walt Disney, think cutting edge cryotherapy chamber with insanely awesome health benefits. Invented in 1978 by a Japanese doctor to treat rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, cryotherapy chambers have made it into the homes of such elite athletes as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lebron James and too many others to list. So what’s the science behind this teeth chattering rejuvenating therapy? Well, let’s enter the chamber.
In Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) the participant steps into a chamber that reaches about shoulder high. Typically wearing only their underwear, socks and gloves they prepare to be blasted with minus-264 degrees Fahrenheit nitrogen-iced air for three whole minutes. Afterwards they’ll usually jump onto an aerobic machine to warm up. This exposure to subzero temperatures stimulates sensors on the skin and activates a Central Nervous System (CNS) response. This response consists of a flood of endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers. This natural opioid-like high is just one of the amazing benefits of cryotherapy.
The enhanced blood circulation brought about by the subzero temperatures decreases inflammation in the body by expelling toxins and metabolic waste through a blast of oxygen and nutrient rich blood. This stimulates cellular regeneration and works to restore damaged tissue (i.e. rapid recovery). In addition to its powerful healing effects, cryotherapy is said to to smooth wrinkles, improve sleep, boost the immune system, circulate the lymphatic system and burn as many as 800 calories in one session. So you can bet your wookie fur that when Han Solo defrosted, he felt like a million bucks.
At a cost of $75 and up per cryotherapy session you may be interested in finding a cheaper alternative with similar benefits. Enter the tried and true ice bath. For a couple of bucks grab a few bags of ice, dump them in your tub with cold water. Optimal temperature is 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll be trying really hard to visualize a sweaty day at the beach while you attempt to stay in your frozen tub of ice for 10 to 15 minutes.
This is a much more uncomfortable technique compared to cryotherapy because you'll actually be lowering the temperature of your soft tissue with the ice water. That said, you’ll enjoy some of the same anti-inflammatory benefits provided by cryotherapy, but to a lesser extent. And although you might be freezing your ass off in a lonely tub of ice and pain, you'll be cutting down on that painful cryo-expense. Save dat money.