Cryotherapy: Is the Coolest Craze Legit?

I admit I’m a new fan of cryotherapy, but I’m not alone. It has been gaining popularity among celebrities and athletes such as LeBron James, the Lakers and even pro triathlete Sarah Piampiano. With claims that it accelerates the body’s natural recovery and so aides in performance, increases blood circulation, immunity, energy, that it helps with pain management, and even has anti-ageing benefits by stimulating collagen production, it’s not hard to see the appeal. But what is cryotherapy and how does it work?

Simply speaking, cryotherapy means “cold therapy”. In most popular versions of the technique, the body is exposed to temperatures of about -160 C for two to three minutes. Clients step into a sauna-like unit with an adjustable base on which to stand. The base is raised according to individual height to ensure that the head stays above the unit. Wearing only socks, warm slippers, and mittens, once you’re inside the unit, you’ll be guided by a trained professional (standing outside) through the two to three-minute countdown. Should you need to, you can ask the operator of the cryosauna to stop it at any point. The unit fills with nitrogen vapour, so it’s not a wet “cold” but a dry one.

My own impressions are only anecdotal, but I do feel great after sessions. Not surprisingly, I really notice a reduction of inflammation. Safe for most people, there are some important contraindications including pregnancy, cardiac issues and hypertension, so be sure to check with your doctor before giving it a try. For further (and more medical-based) reading here is an article which reviews the recent literature on cryotherapy.

If you’re curious and want to give it a try, there is a new cryotherapy clinic in Toronto at Bayview and Manor called Cryomend.
The owner, Nicole Bassels, is very knowledgable and will walk you through the process.