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The Best Kind of Freeze: Cryotherapy

Could a few moments of freeze be the answer to all of your health needs?

New treatments for the body, mind, and beauty become available everyday. It's an industry that is constantly changing and consistently progressing.  Not to mention, the overwhelming amount of options for pain management, weight loss, and mental health, leaving people clueless as to what is legit and what are just temporary gimmicks.  

As a lover of all things that make me feel good and look pretty, I show no fear when it comes to partaking in the latest regimes.  I have done laser treatments, chemical peels, and fad diets. You name it and I have probably tried it.  

When I first heard about cryotherapy I thought it was just for athletes and celebrities, like an outer space chamber that was only for the wealthy.  So you can imagine my pure excitement when I found out a few locations in New Jersey were offering the three-minute, freeze-your-butt off, healer-of-almost-everything treatment.  So off I went to Belle Allure Salon & Spa, one of the few establishments with the real deal machine and well, this is what I learned!  

What can it do for you?

Plain and simple, cryotherapy is a three minute long standing session that can reach temperatures as low as -280 degrees. This idea while new in delivery and availability is not so new in its treatment. It is essentially the modern take on the old school ice bath treatment which was used predominantly on athletes and muscle recovery, but has now been found to do so much more. When exposing your body to such frigid temperatures for just a few moments you can safely treat and prevent minor to major ailments. Here are just a few to name:

  1. Muscle pain, joint pain, and muscle disorders: Arthritis and injuries both being two common issues. Just like we use an icepack to treat bruising and pain, cryotherapy can increase blood circulation promoting healing and pain relief.
  2. Weight loss: While cryotherapy will not cause weight loss on its own, it absolutely supports the process of weight loss. When a body is cold it works harder to stay warm burning calories and increasing metabolism which in turn aides in weight loss. It is also said that these metabolism-boosting affects can last all day.
  3. Reduces inflammation: Chronic inflammation can be linked to a whole boat-load of health problems like cancer, diabetes, dementia, and arthritis. Using cryotherapy can reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system which can reduce the risk of these numerous chronic ailments.
  4. Reduces depression and uplifts moods: Once again, reducing inflammation can assist in the treatment of mental health conditions linked to inflammation like depression and anxiety. One study showed that cryotherapy reduced symptoms by at least 50 percent compared to people suffering with depression who did not undergo cryotherapy.
  5. Migraines: When you use spot-cryotherapy to focus on the neck, it can help reduce (not eliminate) migraine pain.
  6. Increase energy and improve sleep: Since cryotherapy improves blood circulation, it can increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the body. The extreme cold causes the brain to release natural “feel good” endorphins. These same endorphins increase energy levels and can leave you with a euphoric feeling, for up to eight hours.

How does it feel?

Yep, that's me breathing heavy in -226 degrees.

I know, I know, everyone wants to know what cryotherapy feels like and before my first session I was no different!  I mean honestly, -260 degrees for three-minutes sounded like a death wish.  How would I breathe?  Wouldn't I catch frost bite?  First, let me say cryo is not for everyone, pregnant women, children, people with severe high blood pressure and/or heart conditions should not try cryotherapy. For the rest of you, this is a must! 

When I entered the room I was asked to undress, remove all jewelry, and was offered a plush robe, thick mittens, and slippers.  For my initial visit I chose only to try 90-seconds as I was really that frightened of the unknown.  Once the chamber was ready, I unrobed behind a curtain and stepped into this machine which looks more or less like a stand-up tanning bed with your head sticking out.  The cryo-operator (a trained employee of Belle Allure Salon) stayed in the room with me for motivation and to walk me through any concerns I may of had.  Once I stepped in I watched in fasciation as the digital thermometer displayed the plummeting temperatures.  As the digits dropped and the nitrogen clouds bellowed out, I had to mentally remind myself I could do this and I did. Once the session ended, I have to say, I had wished I would have gone longer.  While it was cold, the time was so short I could have easily handled another minute, I mean I am a woman after all! Ha.  So for my next session the following week, that is exactly what I did and asked for the full three-minutes.  This time I will admit, come 30 seconds left to the finish line I was breathing heavy, counting down aloud, and rubbing my arms and legs for any kind of warmth.  Afterwards, I stepped out, gave myself a second to adjust to the room temperature and stare at the most impressive goosebumps I have ever seen.  

Now how did I feel?  Freaking amazing, I tell you.  I felt an instant burst of energy and a smile plastered on my face.   Was it a mixture of my excitement and pride that I had successfully completed the full time, yes of course, but I will say that feeling lasted for the better part of the day.  I also truly believe that due to my increased energy which resulted in more activity throughout my day, I slept better that night.  I wasn't dozing off at 9 PM or anything, but I definitely slept more soundly which is something I struggle with daily. 

Now for the million dollar question. Will I continue with cryotherapy?  The answer is simple, yes, I absolutely will!  Between my sleep and anxiety disorders, recent weight-loss plan, and overall concern for my health, I feel this is a treatment that is quick and promising.  While the cost could be pricey, so is everything else in life that is beneficial to our beauty, physical and mental health.  

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