Feb 07, 2019 07:35PM
● By Dawn Garcia
Health and wellness trends surface at such rapid rates, it’s hard to know what to try, what’s a gimmick, and what will actually do you and your body good. Among those trending is a therapy that’s sweeping sports medicine, healing athletes, and is now available to the general public: cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is typically called cold therapy because extremely low, near-freezing temperatures are used to treat injuries and stress and reset your lymphatic system. It has been used to treat weight loss, stress, cell degeneration, and tissue lesions as an alternative to other more invasive techniques.
I learned about cryotherapy when entrepreneur and multimillionaire Robert Herjavec agreed to step inside a cryotherapy tank on Shark Tank. Wearing nothing but a pair of swim trunks, he stood while subzero temperatures blasted all around him and walked out obviously cold but said he felt reinvigorated. That led me to schedule a visit to a USCryotherapy (USCRYOTHERAPY.COM) office near me.
So, what can you expect? According to Dr. Robert H. Shmerling of Harvard University, whole-body cryotherapy involves “putting on a pair of gloves, shoes, socks, and a protective headband to cover your ears and face wearing little else. Then you step into a cold room for two to four minutes. By cold, I mean really cold: between -1.1°C and 4°C (which is 30°F to 40°F)!” And he was right it’s freezing!
When I scheduled my services at the USCryotherapy center in Studio City owned by Susan Sagheb and Patty Reid, I never imagined how good I’d feel doing it. If nothing else, it woke me up. I started with a new procedure using a state-of-the-art Ballancer®Pro. I put on workout clothes and a cloth barrier and then climbed—literally—into what felt like a NASA astronaut suit. I did this for both my upper and lower body. Once I got suited up and comfortable in my room, they plugged me in and cold compression began.
The Ballancer®Pro is compression therapy that stimulates the lymphatic system, gently decongesting body parts that are hanging on to fluids. The whole session for upper and lower body lasted about 55 minutes, and while I sat there feeling the compression moving through my exterior, I could literally feel my body releasing stress and readjusting from the inside out.
For the next therapy, I stripped down to lie in a red bed called a Novothor, made up of red near-infrared lights used to help regenerate injured cells, reduce inflammation and pain, and even help with weight loss and improve vision and overall focus and well-being. It also helps lymphatic drainage and blood circulation, making it the perfect companion for the BallancerPro.
Initially it feels like you’re climbing into a tanning bed. I laid my naked body on the bed of lights, closed myself into the pod, and waited 10 minutes while relaxing, breathing, and losing myself in the warmth of the perfectly calibrated lights. It’s an unusual exercise to lay perfectly still, soaking up light much like plants soak up sun for photosynthesis, but it has a healing effect that words seem ineffective in relaying. The light therapy is known as photobiomodulation, and time in the bed varies depending on each individual’s needs. Sure, it feels more like you’ve volunteered to star in a sci-fi film in terms of the bed emitting an endless sea of lights, but it is worth trying, especially because it is non-toxic, non-invasive, and has no negative side effects.
The final form of cryotherapy I did was the whole-body cryotherapy chamber. Much like Shmerling described, doing cryotherapy is like intentionally standing outside in a blizzard wearing a bikini. Every instinct in you wants to run for clothing and sit by a heater, but the shock to the system keeps you present and it definitely has an effect on your overall mindset.
At USCryotherapy in Studio City, the cryotherapy is attached to a sound system, so you can play whatever song helps you bear the subzero temperatures for two-and-a-half frost-intensive minutes and it will feel like the longest two-and-a-half minutes of your entire life. I had to sing aloud and quietly give myself a pep talk so I wouldn’t give up. I managed to complete the full session without tapping out, and the way I felt afterwards was amazing. Yes, I was shivering, but my body felt the stress it was carrying get iced out, and the feeling didn’t dissipate once my body finally regulated its core temperature.
While numerous claims back up the power of cryotherapy, no full-proof data says it’s 100 percent body altering. That doesn’t mean you won’t have results. Two weeks after I did my cryotherapy sessions, I felt better than I had in a long while. As for the Novothor, the science behind light therapy is confounded in scientific data that dates back some 40 years and can be found in thousands of clinics, hospitals, and elite athletic institutions in over 70 nations. It was one of the most relaxing and stimulating 10 minutes I’ve ever spent doing anything for my body.