While everyone is looking out for the latest in fitness trends and finding new ways to share their fitspo story, not many talk about the wealth of benefits that post-workout recovery provides.
Apart from stretches, I personally do a little bit of foam rolling and spend some time on the vibration plate machine to ease muscle soreness.
Now, something new has caught my attention, and given that it initially started as a method of recovery for professional athletes, it’s a fair understanding why the masses aren’t getting in on the action.
Cryotherapy is a treatment that uses freezing temperatures to treat a plethora of symptoms and claims to provide a host of benefits like pain relief, healing muscle damage, aiding weight loss, and reducing inflammation among many others.
One such centre in Singapore that provides this service is Cryo Fit, housed within the premises of Evolve MMA at Far East Square. Given that the venue is home to a range of fitness clients, from casual active members to competition-level athletes, it’s the perfect location for a revolutionary recovery system.
I was offered the opportunity to experience two sessions, and see and feel for myself if it had any effect on my post-workout soreness and energy levels.
Most people who do come in for cryotherapy typically come in on average once a week, and considering that a single session sets you back by S$225, it definitely isn’t a luxury treatment that everyone can enjoy.
There’s actually a very interesting sequence of science wizardry that happens from the moment you step into the cryosauna. Once the icy cold nitrogen blasts onto your body, it can reach temperatures as low as -150°C.
This essentially stimulates your nervous systems and tightens blood vessels, thus transferring blood from your skin’s surface, muscle tissue, and surrounding joint space to your core.
While the blood is traveling to the core, it passes through the cardiovascular system where it is cleansed of toxins and inflammatory properties.
Once you step out of the cryosauna, your body starts to warm up. Your body vasodilates (blood vessels enlarge), and the blood that has been supercharged with oxygen, nutrients, and enzymes performs a full systemic inflammation flush as it flows back through the body.
This process stimulates the rate of tissue repair and triggers muscle regeneration as the body restores homeostasis (to auto-regulate and maintain a stable internal state).
Over the next 48 hours post-cryotherapy, your body continues to rejuvenate itself; the increased level of anti-inflammatory hormones in your body reduces inflammation.
The additional enzymes, nutrients, and red blood cells reduce pain, boost energy levels, and speed up recovery, resulting in enhanced athletic performance.
Don’t worry — that was the first question on my mind as well. Each session lasts a maximum of three minutes, but should the individual feel too uncomfortable at any point, they’re free to give a heads-up and stop the treatment. However, it’s not so much the duration but more so the extreme temperatures that may concern many.
I was assured that given the brevity of the treatment, there’s very little that could go wrong. Plus, your head sticks out above the cryosauna, and there will always be someone else in the room during treatment.
Health warnings aside, unless you’re wearing a pace maker or you’ve explicit advice from a medical professional that this kind of treatment isn’t ideal for you, then everyone is suitable.
I must add a disclaimer here that I went in to my first session immensely jet-lagged, so I was really hoping that the cryotherapy session would jolt some much-needed energy in me.
It takes about five minutes to allow the cryosauna to cool, during which time I was left to change out of my clothes and into a fluffy robe.
You can opt to step in just in your birthday suit, or leave on your undergarments, as long as they don’t contain any metal wiring. I decided to go all in and strip down to nothing.
When I stepped into the room where the cryosauna stood, I was handed a pair of woolly socks and gloves, which would keep my extremities snug and warm.
When the chamber was cooled down sufficiently, I stepped in and disrobed (while keeping my gloves and socks on), handing over my only source of warmth to the attendant.
He then raised the inner platform so that only my head peaked out from above, and made sure I was feeling alright. It’s up to the operator’s discretion whether or not they’ll allow you to stand through the entire three minutes, but since it’s my first time, we decided to go for it.
Every 30 seconds, he’d ask to me to rotate. I tried to work on my deep breathing, because honestly, that was probably the only thing that helped me in getting through the biting temperature. I won’t lie; it’s pretty uncomfortable, especially during the first minute.
I felt most of the discomfort in my lower legs, but strangely enough, I could feel my core still warm. It definitely wasn’t the kind of chill that goes straight to one’s bones.
The three-minute mark was finally announced and I was desperate to get my robe back. I quickly wrapped myself up and allowed myself to savour the rush of warm blood to my legs and arms. I was told it gets easier to tolerate the more sessions in, so I was hopeful that the second round wouldn’t be as uncomfortable.
I was informed that over the next 48 hours, not only would I feel invigorated, but I would fall asleep like a log, especially given my jetlag. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was very true, and that night I completely passed out an entire two hours earlier than my usual bed time.
Two weeks passed and I was due for my second cryotherapy session. We followed the same procedures. Only this time, I found myself having a higher tolerance for the cold. I discovered that moving my legs up and down really helped, and holding a conversation aided in distracting me.
After the second session, my energy levels remained high even throughout my workout after. I found I had boundless energy during my circuit training, and felt like I could go deeper into my squats and stretches.
It was at this point that I slowly began to see why some professional athletes keep a cryosauna right in their homes.
For all the benefits that cryotherapy claims to provide, I can say that with only two sessions under my belt, it has definitely helped me functionally.
After both sessions, I sensed I was more alert and full of energy. I also performed better during my workouts, which is pretty amazing given all it takes is standing in a cold chamber for three minutes!
If you’re curious and have a deep enough pocket to try it out, I would highly recommend you do. For us who have near-empty piggy banks, an ice bath might just do the trick. The only difference is, it’s hard to keep the temperature consistent and of course, it won’t get as cold. Try the real thing!
Price: S$225 per session