‘You can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
~ Brian Tracy
My first cryotherapy sesh was just as exciting as it was intimidating. At the time, I was in training for my second marathon, the Tomoka Marathon in 2016. I was investing a lot of energy, time and resources to take on Tomoka; therefore, I was open to any recovery method to help me get through training and run Tomoka in one piece.
Thankfully, Orlando Sports Chiropractor is equipped with a state-of-the-art cryosauna chamber – this one is a partial body cooling where my head was out of the chamber. I usually get into the chamber wearing a sports bra, shorts, socks and the gloves and sleepers that OSC provides. That’s it! I did one session during training, one session three days prior to the race and another session two days after the race. I believe it offered great benefits to my performance and recovery time as I did not sustain any injury besides the expected soreness from running or training for a marathon.
I’m currently training my body to run a sub-2 half marathon, and eventually, get down to 1:45; subsequently to work on a full marathon and BQ time. As my training and mileage have intensified, it has taken a toll on my body and time to adapt. Since suffering an Adductor strain on my left leg mid-March, I have taken a more proactive and consistent approach to recovery methods. I see my chiropractor once a month and I do a sesh of cryotherapy once a month.
So far the concept of once a month cryotherapy has been productive. I tend to schedule my sessions in the first week of the month. This way my body will recovery from the month that has passed and receives a boost for the new month ahead. I started with this approach in May and I have been doing since then and seeing great results for the past months. The month of my injury I was only able to log in 40 miles. April was still a recovery month and I logged even less than March with only 34.2 miles. In May, I closed the month with 60.4 miles – a huge difference in improvement, healing and recovery from the past two months.
In order to keep the rhythm going strong and steady, I continued with my recovery methods on the first week of June. The weather was getting hotter and more humid by the day and missing a cryotherapy session on the first week of June was not an option. At the end of month, I hit my first 100 mile for the month and over with 102.1 miles. I have never felt so strong and my recovery period from one workout to the next were a lot steadier. So if you ask me if it works, I’d have to say: it is working for me! But I’d say it is also a compilation of many other things that I do as part of my recovery process and methods as I mentioned in my previous blog entry.
So, what is cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy was originally developed in Japan in 1978 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and it is a hyper-cooling process using liquid nitrogen that lowers a person’s skin temperature to approximately 30 to 50 degrees F for a period of up to three minutes by enveloping the body with extremely cold air at temperatures ranging from -100 to -274 F.
Thermoreceptors in the skin send signals to the brain to send the blood to the core to maintain body temperature with a process called vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels). At this point, toxins are flushed from peripheral tissues and blood is enriched with oxygen, enzymes, and nutrients. The body activates all of its natural healing abilities and releases endorphins for further benefit. As the body warms up again, the enriched blood flows through the body through a process called vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels as a result from relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessels walls). Thus, cryotherapy is very effective for athletic recovery and muscle repair, reduction of chronic pain and inflammation, and overall enhancement of health and wellness.
Some of the benefits from cryotherapy include:
- Faster Recovery from Exercises – because of better blood flow, joint and muscle strength is increased and cryotherapy is effective against delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). And unlike ice baths, muscles don’t need time to recover after cryotherapy. I feel that it is the biggest benefit for me. After suffering an adductor muscle strain, I have been able to go over rehab and strength training with great recovery while slowly building up my mileage. In June I ran 102.1 miles – that’s my record for the month, and I have to give credits to my body’s acceptance to several methods of recovery, especially stretching and cryotherapy.
- Happiness Boost – that’s because the procedure releases endorphins into the bloodstream. Immediately after a session, I feel a sense of well-being and happiness. I feel at easy and relaxed. It truly feels like I spent an entire day at a spa.
- Decreases Inflammation – it’s known that ice when applied to a specific area of the body, reduces inflammation. Cryotherapy is helpful in a sense that targets the entire body not just a specific area. I found that cryotherapy has helped me a lot with body aches and with limiting the feeling of body tiredness and increasing the feeling of being fresh again.
- Increased metabolism – a two to three minute session of cryotherapy takes a lot of energy to reheat the body which burn approximately 500 to 800 calories; therefore, when the skin is cooled to around 35 degrees F, it requires a lot of energy to reheat it to our regular body temperature. Immediately after a cryo session, I have to wear a light cardigan and I feel that it takes about 12 hours until my body temperature is less sensitive to the cold. However, I feel refreshed.
I am sure there are articles out there pointing out the “not-so-good” or risks of cryotherapy. After some readings, I found that as long as you don’t go into the chamber with damp/wet clothing (risk of frostbite) or decide to get into the chamber when nobody is around, the “risks” are very minimum.
The most I have been able to handle is -245 F for the whole period allowed of 3 minutes! But within 2 minutes, I started to feel pinches on my skin, especially the legs. How long you’re able to stay in really depends on the level of relaxation you are in and the number of times you’ve experienced cryotherapy. Mental preparation throughout the week also plays a big part on the length of time you are able to endure. Overall, I’d say it really comes down to how relaxed you are during the sesh.
And if you are skeptical about doing your first sesh of cryo, be brave and do it! You only stay in the chamber for as long as you can handle. Remember, baby steps!
It is now July and guess what? It is time for another monthly sesh. So, let’s go and give it a try!
“Stepping out of your comfort zone is a great catalyst for success.”