In Part 3 of her Winter Sports Series, Nurse Mia Ross digs deeper into the latest health fad, Whole Body Cryotherapy.
Recently, the media has been highlighting Whole Body Cryotherapy [WBC] as a worthwhile health treatment. WBC involves exposing the entire body to extreme temperatures (-200 degrees Farneheit or -130 degrees Celcius) in a small chamber that is cooled using liquid nitrogen. Although little research is available to verify its benefits, WBC has been used since the 1970’s as a way to increase muscle recovery after exercise. As a health writer and a winter sports enthusiast, I was intrigued. Would it be worth my time (along with a big chunk of my money) to do this therapy after a day on the slopes? The answer is simply no.
There are some weak studies highlighting the marginal (at best) benefit of cryotherapy on elite athletes. It seems as though extreme trail runners and professional rugby players may see a slight decrease in muscle recovery time with one session of cryotherapy immediately after rigorous exercise. I found no data suggesting any benefit for the non-athlete.
KryoLife, a company offering WBC to the public, promises boosted metabolism and weight loss, an increase in collagen production, pain relief, alleviation of depression and anxiety, increased immune function, greater testosterone levels in men, and decreased inflammation and swelling with each session. Sounds too good to be true. And that’s because it is! Again, there is no solid research to support these grandiose statements.
If you are a professional athlete and can afford this insanely expensive treatment (it costs $90 dollars for 1.5-3 minutes in the NYC Kryolife cold chamber), I say go right ahead. It won’t hurt you. Although I remain skeptical and prefer to stick with tried and true methods. After a day on the slopes, the last thing I want to do is continue being cold. My recommendation: stay warm, drink water, and use an ice pack as needed.