What is Cryotherapy?
Simply put, cryotherapy is cold therapy. Today the most common forms of cryotherapy are either whole body cryotherapy or localized cryo. In this blog we will go into detail about Whole Body Cryotherapy. A quick google search will tell you that whole body cryotherapy is when your entire body is exposed to -160°F to -250°F for 2 to 3 minutes. If you shop around for cryotherapy you will find treatments that range from -130°F to -250°F for 2-6 minutes. Some do not expose the entire body to the cold and should be called Partial body cryotherapy (PBC) and some do not reach the prescribed temperatures. The reason for this is because there are different types of cryo-chambers and saunas used by health spas in the US today. However, all try to accomplish the same goal of lowering your core temperature to the point where your body reacts by releasing adrenaline, endorphins and other neurotransmitters. This also stimulates blood circulation and collagen production. The results are improved mood, reduced pain & Inflammation, younger looking skin, and accelerated muscle recovery. The most common types of equipment on the market are cryo-saunas and cryo-chambers, which come in two different styles: electric and nitrogen.
Electric Cryotherapy Chambers
Electric cryotherapy chambers are good - You walk into a small room usually with a transparent door and you stand in the cold from 2-6 minutes. Your head and shoulders are exposed to the cold and you breathe in the cold air. Most of these chambers let you listen to music while you are in them and it really does help the time pass much faster, provided you pick a good song. Some electric chambers have a fan inside blowing the air and the wind chill makes it feel a little colder than it really is. So how cold is it? Most electric chambers can only get to about -135°F so it will take more than 3 minutes for your core temperature to get as low as it needs to and takes longer to achieve similar physiological results but it is safer than a cryo-sauna and it is whole Body.
Cryo-saunas are better than electric chambers - They use nitrogen to cool your body and can get as cold as -256°F. A sauna means that your body is in a tube but your head is sticking out making it Partial Body Cryotherapy. These are the most common in use and your really feel your skin temp start to drop fast because nitrogen gas is being sprayed directly into the tube and onto your body. Depending on the brand, you may need to rotate so that the cold is not concentrated on one area (causing frostbite) and the machine operator will constantly remind your to lift your chin and make sure you don’t inhale the gas (otherwise you can pass out). These two risks are some of the reasons some centers may offer electric chamber over nitrogen cryo-saunas. But many centers or spas will use this type of equipment because the risk is minimal. Many feel that the risks are so minimal and prefer the results after being exposed to a colder temperature from the use of nitrogen. And this is where the dispute begins, and people will debate the pros and cons between these two systems!
Nitrogen based cryo-chambers are the best - In a nitrogen based cryo-chamber nitrogen is used to super cool the air. Then the cold air is transferred into the chamber. This indirect system has all of the benefits of the cold nitrogen without any of the risk. It is the best of both worlds. At Recovery Science Inc. we use the Cryo-Artic Chamber. This advanced state of the art machine is not only the most effective but it is also the safest. The chamber only has breathable air so your head and shoulder get the cold exposure and so does your face (mini cryo facial is ALWAYS included!). Breathing in the cold air also helps your core temperature drop much faster. The cryo-artic also lets you listen to music and if you don’t like confined spaces the window lowers with very little effect on the temperature. The two images below can help you visualized why Cryo-Artic Chambers are is safer and why it is more effective.
So, if the benefits are so obvious why doesn’t everyone use the same chamber? These chambers are new and many places already invested in cryo saunas before they were available. These chamber are also more expensive to buy and operate because they consume more nitrogen to cool your entire body. Some establishments do not like the logistics involved with refilling and changing nitrogen tanks. However, some new shops are taking advantage of these advances in technology and starting off with the best equipment available today. The San Diego cryotherapy scene has all of these different machines nonetheless, if you want to try the best true whole body cryotherapy come by Recovery Science Inc.