Used by a laundry list of elite athletes including everyone from professional bodybuilders to olympians, UFC fighters, and even entire NBA teams, cryogenic chamber therapy is building a reputation as one of the most effective new recovery therapies currently available to athletes. With its growth in popularity WBC (Whole Body Cryotherapy) is becoming more accessible to the general public as more and more clinicians are adding chambers to their practices to use as a more effective alternative to cold water immersion or ice packs.
For bodybuilders? Quicker recovery means that you can lift heavy things more often. When you can prevent DOMS and quickly alleviate other aches and pains, that means you can train harder and more often with less downtime. But are these chambers the real deal, or just another fad?
What is cryogenic chamber therapy, anyways?
Cryogenic therapy is like The Jetsons equivalent to jumping into a garbage bin filled with ice water. Whole body cryotherapy was invented in Japan in the late 1970’s, but only started to gain traction stateside in the last few years with clinics opening up all over the country.
More and more weightlifters are starting to swear by it. A three minute session costs about as much as dinner for two at a mid-tier restaurant so you don’t have to be a pro athlete to afford it either, you just have to have your priorities in order.
How does cryotherapy work?
Once you’re inside the chamber, you’ll get a burst of nitrogen gas every thirty seconds or so. The freezing gas surrounds your entire body which causes your blood to rush away from your limbs and towards your core in an attempt to warm and protect your vital organs from an icy funeral. It puts you into survival mode, and fills your blood up with oxygen. When you step out of the chamber, your blood immediately rushes back to your arms and legs and you’ll feel a warm, almost tingly sensation. That means it’s working.
If you have a sports injury, whether it’s a contusion or a strain, the blood running to the core and then coming back to the limbs with oxygenated blood redevelops injured cells and helps you heal faster.
It’s no secret that ice and extremely cold temperatures help with recovery, the first thing you reach for when you hurt yourself is an ice-pack. Now imagine an ice pack for your entire body.
- The temperature of the nitrogen gas ranges from -166 F to -260 F.
- The treatment lasts between 90 seconds and 3 minutes.
- You are subjected to several short bursts of nitrogen gas, each lasting just a few moments.
- Athletes report feeling much less sore in the days following an intense workout.
- Notable fans of WBC include Usain Bolt, Steve Kuclo, Cristiano Ronaldo (Bought a chamber for his home), Kobe Bryant, UFC welterweight champ Johny Hendricks, and many more.
Notable Scientific Findings Related To Athletic Recovery:
Effect of whole body cryotherapy on the levels of some hormones in professional soccer players.
Whole body cryotherapy leads to a significant decrease in serum T and E(2), with no effect on LH and DHEAS levels. As a results of cryotherapy, the T/E(2) ratio was significant increased. The changes observed are probably due to cryotherapy-induced alternation in the blood supply to the skin and subcutaneous tissue, as well as to modulation of the activity of aromatase which is responsible for conversion of testosterone and androstenedione to estrogens.
Time-course of changes in inflammatory response after whole-body cryotherapy multi exposures following severe exercise.
Overall, the results indicated that the WBC was effective in reducing the inflammatory process. These results may be explained by vasoconstriction at muscular level, and both the decrease in cytokines activity pro-inflammatory, and increase in cytokines anti-inflammatory.
Cryotherapy effective for treating frozen shoulder
In patients with adhesive capsulitis (AC) of the shoulder, the addition of whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) to physical therapy and joint mobilization appears to be more effective than the latter two alone, research shows.
Indeed, patients receiving additional WBC achieved “clinically significant” improvements of over 20% relative to the physical therapy and mobilization group, suggesting it could become “the preferred treatment strategy,” according to Hyeong-Dong Kim (Korea University, Seoul) and colleagues.
There was even a study to determine if whole body cryotherapy (WBC) could be an effective treatment for anxiety. Despite a small sample size, the results were encouraging.
Cryochamber vs Cryosauna
The difference between a cryochamber and a cryosauna is simple. With a cryosauna, your head sticks out of the top and you’re not completely isolated inside, as opposed to the chamber which you step into and it is sealed off. The chamber allows for a more uniform distribution of temperate, in other words your face will be freezing cold along with the rest of you.
Cryogenic Therapy in MMA
Joe Rogan (who we last mentioned when he was talking trash about modern bodybuilding) is an evangelist for cryogenic chamber therapy and has personally played a role in influencing many people to try it out for themselves, including UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub who said “I usually do ice baths between training sessions, but the set-up is such a hassle. Cryo is convenient and it brings my recovery to another level. Cold as hell, but it works!”
Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks says “3 minutes to make my body feel good? I’ll do anything for 3 minutes.”
For athletes in any sport, proper recovery is essential in order to prevent injuries. Preventing injuries means more training, and more training means better performance. Even if you aren’t an elite level athlete, cryogenic chamber therapy can help with reducing inflammation and pain.
Where can you try it for yourself?
If you’re in a major city, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a spot to try this unique recovery hack for yourself. If you’re in NYC, you’ll want to check out Kyrolife in particular. You can find them at 57 W 57th Street, Suite 712, New York, NY 10019, between 5th and 6th Ave. KryoLife will be opening additional sites in the New York area, as well as 12 other states and in Latin America.To schedule an appointment at Kryolife, call (212) 551-3333 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.