(BOZEMAN) Whole-body cryotherapy is a technique that many trainers will suggest to people who have intense fitness training or chronic pain like arthritis. It’s picking up as a method of recovery for athletes and people with fitness-related injuries.
“Whole body cryotherapy is a surface-level cold. So it’s ice therapy but it’s more of a mind game, so when you get out it pushes all the nutrient-rich blood and the oxygen out to your extremities,” said Rae Barrett, owner of CryoMT.
The concept is standing in a machine for three minutes while cold nitrogen is blown around your body. Some trainers and cryotherapy studio owners believe that there are even more benefits to the freeze than just recovering muscles.
“It’s also good for energy boosts, so some people do it before a workout,” said Barrett.
You may think this is just a fancy ice bath, but it’s also different than an old-fashioned cold soak.
“You have to be in an ice bath for probably about 40 minutes to get the benefits of about three minutes. Plus with an ice bath, only the places that you are icing get the benefit. This is that blood going to the core and then pushing out. Your whole body gets the benefit,” Barrett said.
Before exposing your body to -321 degrees Fahrenheit, there are some other things to consider with cryotherapy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not found any proof that cryotherapy has any of the benefits it says it does.
Also, basketball players at Missouri State University actually got injured after using the treatment, prompting the athletic department to put a ban on athletes’ use of cryotherapy altogether.
“We have no interest in doing it further, that’s for sure. But we need to figure out what happened right now, let alone in the future, but we have no plans to do it again,” said Missouri State University Athletic Director Kyle Moats.
But then there are athletes like LeBron James who says he swears by the treatment.
The best bet, as with any type of medical treatment, is to consult your doctor before stepping in the freezing chamber.