One of the latest health and wellness trends to hit NYC is cryotherapy, but what exactly is it, and how does it benefit us? I had the pleasure of visiting Complete Wellness on the Upper East Side where Dr. Daniel Fenster walked me through a cryotherapy session, and all it’s benefits. Cryotherapy itself has been around for decades, but didn’t start becoming more commonplace until the last few years, when it came out that elite athletes like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were using cryotherapy as part of their training regime.
The cryotherapy session itself only lasts 3 minutes. During that time the patient is wearing very little, essentially your underwear, gloves, shoes and socks, while air chilled by liquid nitrogen is blasted at you, maintaining the temperature in the cryotherapy chamber at a balmy -250 degrees (approximately). During this 3 minute period Dr. Fenster talked about what was going on with my body, helping to distract me from the uncomfortable process. As your body is being confronted with the cold environment it goes into a fight or flight response, and all of your nerve endings start firing trying to get you to move and leave the frozen environment. As you focus on your breathing (very important), your body becomes more efficient in providing oxygen to your muscles. Your body starts to work harder to maintain equilibrium, resulting in an increase in metabolism. Patients of cryotherapy often report a decrease in muscle soreness, as well as increased tolerance of pain and workout endurance. One added benefit of the session is that a single session burns 500 calories by itself!
After the session I experienced a more positive outlook (that may have been due to the fact that I was so happy to be out of the cold!), as well as becoming ravenously hungry. Looking back at the session now, while my body was screaming at me during the session, the overall process resulted in more positives than the negative of having to be frozen for 3 minutes, and is something I could see myself doing more regularly to augment my healthy lifestyle.