by Matt Basso | March 2015

Whole Body Cryotherapy

As you might imagine I’m always researching and experimenting with new ideas and  techniques that may make training and working out hard better and more manageable. My most recent experience came in the form of full body cryotherapy.

One could logically deduce that cryotherapy has something to do with cold. While that is true, it’s also true that whole body cryotherapy is a bit more advanced and slightly less painful then getting in an ice bath or acute ice therapy. It involves getting inside what is called a cryosauna (very misleading here as I relate the word sauna to warmth) or a cryochamber. The former is for one person and is open on top so your head is above the unit, and the latter is fully enclosed and allows for multiple people - Party in an ice box… Doesn’t sound sexy to me. More like Cry “oooo” Chamber because it’s soooo coooold - ok that’s all I’ve got for jokes.

Ok, so why put yourself through something like this?

Well the benefits may out way the quick 3mins of uncomfortable of cold.

The reported benefits of cryotherapy are:

  • Anti-aging
  • Fighting Depression
  • Weight Loss
  • Anti-inflammatory

You may have heard us mention Brown fat, or brown adipose tissue in the video. This is a kind of fat stored in the human body that is known to have thermogenic properties. That means it’s a kind of fat that can help you burn unwanted body fat.

Yes..Fat that burns Fat!

To watch the video Click here

The thought process is that if you can stimulate the brown tissue by lowering body temperature, then it can help you metabolize fat more efficiently. The cryotherapy unit may help do this with only 3 mins of cold exposure rather than 15 mins of cold exposure in something like an ice bath.

The last on my list above, the anti-inflammatory response is really the one I’m most interested in. Although I wouldn’t over look the other effects as I felt great and very invigorated when I got out the cryotherapy unit.

My focus on fighting inflammation is because of my desire to speed up recovery between exercise sessions for myself and my clients. The better recovery you have the harder you can workout and the more frequent your training sessions can be. In fact this is why many athletes use performance enhancing drugs. A common miss-understanding of PEDs is that they simply make you stronger. While it’s possible you may feel stronger after you take them, it’s more about recovering better and faster so you can train harder and longer… That ultimately makes you stronger and more fit.

Remember that exercise is the process by which you stress and break down your body. The recovery portion is when your body get’s stronger in preparation for more stress. This is why sleep, rest, recovery workouts, and days off from the gym are necessary.

There are different kinds of inflammation.

Chronic inflammation - which can last for months or even years

Acute inflammation - which has a rapid onset and can quickly escalate but subsides in a shorter time period as in days or weeks.

The inflammatory response is important. It’s an immune response and our bodies use this response to fight off infections or help heal tissue (after workouts, or trauma). The interesting part is that too much inflammation can trigger more inflammation and your body can get caught in a vicious cycle of inflammation … Inflammation on inflammation on inflammation, which isn’t favorable like racks on racks on racks.

The thought process and studies on inflammatory responses within the body are many and heavy so I’m not going deep into it. I’ll leave exploring the ideas behind coronary artery disease and inflammation genetics up to you.

Let’s keep it simple and look at acute inflammation.

Working out requires you to exert force. Hopefully that force builds over time an becomes more intense. As you build upon that intensity and lift harder or run faster you ask more of your body, particularly your muscles, joints, tendons, and numerous other connective tissues that can become inflamed.

Managing this response well can make all the difference in your training.

Doing nothing or doing too much can put you in that vicious cycle.

On the other hand, focusing on proper nutrition both pre and post workouts along with resting properly and programming your workouts well, can have a positive effect on your inflammation.

Here’s one problem though...

No matter how great your programming and nutrition are, you can expect to go through a period where inflammation slows you down. It could be from something as simple as a new workout that makes you extremely sore, or something as unfortunate as a necessary surgery or accident.

In the extreme cases medication maybe necessary but as a general rule I’d prefer to manage inflammation without taking pills. Yes Advil works for me, but I’m not in love with the idea that it can cause stomach issues. I have clients that have used prescription based anti-inflammatories and the response have been mixed. Again they have lists of side effects that SHOULD SCARE YOU.

So I got in the cold tube to further my exploration into less intrusive forms of inflammation management.

As a natural supplement I also take Turmeric. I like it. I can’t say I’ve used it for anything like a headache. In fact now that I think about it I haven’t had headaches recently.

Be proactive and try to help yourself. If you feel inflamed, are very active, or know you suffer from some kind of chronic inflammation try the cryotherapy. The place I went to is called Kryolife  they are located in new York city. I also have to say that they are extremely friendly and make you feel very comfortable about the experience. For me that’s important. I ask a lot of questions and expect answers. They were happy and even excited about discussing the ins and outs of the machine and the benefits of cryotherapy.

Filed under: Training