What Is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy refers to any kind of cold exposure for health or performance purposes. This usually includes exposure to extremely cold air, cold water or even just applying ice to sore muscles. These days, the ‘modern’ version of cryotherapy is Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) using a cryo chamber or cryo sauna.
How does the cryosauna work?
In the cryosauna, the body is exposed to temperatures between -120°C and -180°C for 1-3 minutes. This causes the skin’s cold receptors to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. The body thinks that this sudden and extreme cold is a life-threatening situation and activates a chain of survival mechanisms. Vasoconstriction occurs and blood is redirected from the skin to preserve the vital organs and maintain core temperature.
The body doesn’t freeze as the air in the cryosauna is very dry – whereas in moist air, this temperature would not be tolerable by the human body. The cryosauna is a far more comfortable experience than say, immersing yourself in an ice bath!
Once you go back into a room-temperature environment, vasodilation occurs and the blood rushes back to the skin. Blood circulation is naturally stimulated and oxygenated blood is delivered to damaged tissues.
There are many health benefits to cryotherapy – some of them include:
- Reduced pain & inflammation
- Increased metabolism
- Reduced stress & anxiety
- Improved sleep
Why Am I Doing This?
If you’re going to be a biohacker, then self-experimentation is where it’s at – safely of course, & under the guidance of a practitioner. When biohacking you will take measurements of certain markers before, during & after an experiment.
In this case, I have some recent blood tests (which I’ll share in up-coming posts), body measurements & my ‘ailments’ and I will journal how I’m feeling.
I started off this experiment with the following symptoms:
My main goal with the cryo is to reduce the inflammation in my body. It seems like there are underlying causes to this, and I want to give my body a rest from the constant inflammation it’s been under for a few years now, so that it can get into healing mode to get to the bottom of some of my issues.
So how does cryotherapy help with pain & inflammation exactly?
Cryotherapy assists with pain by triggering the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. This stimulates the production of endorphins and decreases the body’s perception of pain. Also, nerve cells in the chilled area cause nearby blood vessels to constrict (vasodilation) which leads to a reduction of blood flow to the injured area. These two things working in combination create an analgesic (numbing) effect on soft tissue.
OK, so I’m sure you want to hear the nitty-gritty now…how has it gone so far?…well, here it is:
Sessions 1-7: Overview
Day 1 Session 1 Ready, set, go! 90 sec @ -100°C
Day 3 Session 2 Short & sweet 2 min @ -120°C
Day 4 Session 3 Feeling good 2 min 10 sec @ -130°C
Day 6 Session 4 Getting into it 3 min @ -150°C
Day 7 Session 5 Impatience is setting in…. 2 min 40 sec @ -136°C
Day 8 Session 6 The best yet 3 min @ -150°C
Day 9 Session 7 My first cryo experiment injury 3 min @-163°C
These first 7 sessions were all about:
- getting used to the machine and the treatment
- increasing my time & temperature in the cryo sauna
- getting addicted to the endorphin rush
- trimming down a little (the first of the inflammation calming down)
- experiencing my first cryo injury – cryo burn
Session 8: Overview
Welcome to Herxheimer’s Reaction! What’s that you ask??…a short-term (from days to a few weeks) detoxification reaction in the body. As the body detoxifies, it is not uncommon to experience flu-like symptoms including headache, joint and muscle pain, body aches, sore throat, general malaise, sweating, chills, nausea or other symptoms.
This happens because the cryotherapy puts you into a state of accelerated healing. If, for example, like me, you have had a lot of inflammation for a number of years – which causess a build up of toxins to be present in your body – the healing causes a rapid detox meaning the excess toxins are now circulating in your blood stream. This in turn may put excess pressure on the liver which it might not be able to handle…hence all the very unpleasant feelings as mentioned above. For me in particular it’s been joint pain, lethargy and a general feeling of blah!
If you haven’t experienced Herxheimer’s Reaction first hand, then you haven’t yet pushed the boundaries of your biohacking experimentation & found out what your body reacts to and how…I’m telling you now though, that it can be quite painful and I can’t say it’s enjoyable…yet somehow, I kinda always end up here! I tend to think I’m so smart & know my boundaries, but you know…your body will do, what your body will do!
Session 9 – 13: Overview
Day 13 Session 9 Dipping my feet back in 90 sec @ -100°C
Day 24 Session 12 Easing back into it 90 sec -100°C
Day 26 Session 13 Nearly back on track! 2 min 30 @ -120°C
These past couple of weeks have been brutal! I’ve been suffering from increased joint pain, serious brain fog, lethargy, and generally feeling ‘off’ from the detox of the Herxheimer’s reaction. I still went to some cryo sessions, but definitely pulled back on the frequency of sessions and reduced the session duration & temperature. I felt like I needed the cryo to help give me a boost through this process, but just not too much that would push me further into the heavy detox that I was already in.
Session 14: Overview
Day 31 Session 14 Measuring up (actually, down) 2 min 30 sec @ -120°C
Woo hoo…I can report that after my first month of cryo I have reduced by some centimetres. You can read all about it in the post above.
It’s definitely been an interesting ride so far. For a start, I honestly thought that I would be going to a session nearly every day and healing instantly! OK…unrealistic, but I get excited easily.
Overall, though, prior to the Herxheimer’s reaction (which I’m still going through) you will always feel amazing after a session. Somehow, when you’re in the sub-zero temperatures, if you get into the ‘zone’, there’s something special & amazing about it. Then of course, after the session, you get an amazing endorphin rush as your blood starts recirculating throughout your body & you get a burst of energy & happiness.
I definitely felt a sense of well-being & calmness since starting the cryo. There is plenty of research that shows that using cryotherapy assists with depression. I noticed it mostly at work…I just haven’t gotten as easily stressed at work & my calmness & being able to get centred is very similar to the effects of meditation (which I have practiced for over 15 years).
Cryotherapy is definitely worth trying…I kinda stuffed things up for myself by going so hard straight off the bat…but I’m all sensible now & finding my way back to balance & what I’m hoping for is better results once I’ve completed month 2. I’m also going to get some blood test results this week which can be compared to pre-cryo-hacking results. I will outline those details in upcoming posts.
So needless to say, even though I’m only a month in with the experiment (I will do it for at least 3 months) I highly recommend it. If you do have health issues, then definitely don’t go too hard to start with as you might elicit a strong detox reaction & not feel so good (please learn from my mistakes!). So ease into it. Otherwise, if you’re in top physical shape, your health is amazing and you’re looking to use cryotherapy for sports recovery & ready to take your body to another level, then go for it! Of course, I highly recommend consulting with a practitioner prior to using the cryo for any reason….and even more so if you’re going to do some serious biohacking!
If you’re looking to try cryotherapy in Australia, specifically in Sydney, then head off to cryo.com.au – they have just recently opened & are the only cryo clinic in Sydney! Woo hoo!! Also, the staff there are amazeballs & will definitely look after you…remember to mention me 🙂
For a 50% discount on your first visit, use this link >>50% Off<<
I hope you enjoyed reading about the first month in my experiment & of course, please feel free to get in contact to ask questions or even to share your own stories.
Hack your life to health, happiness & abundance
ps…I have something really ‘cool’ (actually, literally!) coming up in the next couple of weeks that will take my experiment to another level! Let’s just say it’s going to be with THE ‘iceman’!!! You can find out what it is & read all about it in my cryo-hacking journal >>www.livinglimitlessly.com/cryo<<
Please note that this is my personal experience & should not be construed as individual medical advice.