My friend opened a high-tech fitness center a couple months back. I’m not a gym type guy, however this one has a cryotherapy machine. These are supposed to be good for recovery from hard workouts in addition to helping with general muscle soreness and pains. I stopped in the day after my last race to give it a whirl.
Walking in I was more than a little nervous. The machine is supposed to get temperatures down to negative 230 degrees. I’m not a huge fan of the cold (and avoid ice baths for this reason) and was concerned about that large negative number. That’s like deep space cold. This was well outside my normal and I had no idea just how uncomfortable or borderline painful this was going to be. Also, I wasn’t sure of what I was I going to wear, how long it would last, and all the other little things that goes along with trying something new.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised that the process was much, much easier than I thought. The longest part of the whole thing was getting signed up and answering all the medical questions. Most of the conditions were completely unknown to me so I just assumed they didn’t apply. After this was accomplished, it was off to the dressing room to swap my clothes for a comfy robe and slippers. The only thing missing was a pipe and a fireplace.
The cryothingy was still cooling down when I got over to it. It probably took about 5 minutes for it to drop down from room temperature to -230 degrees. At that point, I got into the tube and handed out the robe in exchange for some gloves to wear. This left me with just my boxers, socks and the aforementioned slippers. The session lasts for 3 minutes and it went fairly quickly. While it was cold, it didn’t feel anywhere near 230 degrees below zero. Or even 100 below. I would call it no worse than modestly uncomfortable.
Million Dollar Question
So did it work? After quite a bit of thought. . . I’m not sure. I was a little sore heading into the session and while I wasn’t worse off the next day, I wasn’t soreness free like I was expecting. Though in fairness, I have been known to have issues managing my expectations. My biggest problem is trying to be objective about something so subjective. I don’t typically get very sore from running outside my ultras so it’s hard to think back 6 weeks or 3 months to how I felt the last time.
At the end of the day, it was a pretty cool (pun intended, of course) experience and I’m happy that I did it. It’s probably not something that I will do regularly, however I will consider additional treatments in the future if my legs are in a really bad way. After all, our bodies are incredibly complex organisms and who knows how they will react in the future. It’s good to keep experimenting as what works today probably won’t forever and what doesn’t work today may be just the ticket at some point in the future.